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Saudi Atheeb IPO 100pc oversubscribed

Riyadh, February 1, 2009

A SR300 million ($80 million) initial public offering by Saudi Arabia's Etihad Atheeb Telecommunications Company was 100 per cent oversubscribed one day before subscription closes, the lead manager said on Sunday.

The IPO raised SR601.3 million by 1025GMT on Sunday, lead manager Saudi Hollandi Capital said in a statement.

Etihad Atheeb, one of three firms licensed to operate new fixed-line networks in Saudi Arabia, offered to Saudi investors 30 million shares, representing 30 per cent of its capital, at SR10 each. Subscription opened on January 24 and will close on Monday.

The IPO is Saudi Arabia's first since August after bourse regulators froze fresh listings amid jitters that hit local and global markets.

'This oversubscription (is interpreted) as a positive indicator of confidence in the IPO market in Saudi Arabia,' said Saudi Hollandi Capital's chief executive Tahir Al-Dabbagh.

Several Saudi firms, including fast-food chain Herfy, soft-drinks maker Aujan and steel maker al-Ittefaq Steel Products Co, have had to postpone plans to sell shares to the public.

The global financial crisis added to the woes of the Saudi bourse which has not been able to recover fully from a 2006 crash. The largest Arab bourse lost more than half of its value in 2008 and fell more that 75 per cent from a lifetime peak in 2006.

Etihad Atheeb's share sale follows government rules on companies licensed to operate fixed-line networks.

The company, whose shareholders include private local Atheeb Group and Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco), will face competition from current fixed-line monopoly Saudi Telecom (STC) and two other firms that won licences last year to offer fixed-line services.

The two other firms are Optical Communications Company, led by US Verizon Communications and Al-Mutakamilah Company which is led by Hong Kong's PCCW.

Etihad Atheeb has said it plans to invest $1 billion over five years in its fixed-line operation and to target government and industrial hubs and regions covered insufficiently by STC.-Reuters

Tags: Saudi Arabia | oversubscribed | Etihad Atheeb |

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