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15 July 2024

Etihad Atheeb launches IPO to raise Dh300m

By Reuters

Etihad Atheeb Telecommunications Co, one of three companies licenced to operate new fixed-line networks in Saudi Arabia, launched an initial public offering to raise 300 million riyals (Dh300m).

Atheeb, which comprises Bahrain Telecommunications (Batelco) and Saudi private investors, will seek to sell 30 million shares, or 30 per cent of its capital, at 10 riyals each, according to a sale prospectus.

The IPO will close on February 2. Atheeb's share sale is Saudi Arabia's first IPO since August.

The local bourse lost more than half of its value in 2008 and analysts say Saudi regulators have put on hold IPOs until investor sentiment improves.

Etihad Atheeb will face competition from 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.

STC has about 4.5 million fixed-line subscribers and around 1.3 million internet users. Saudi Arabia has a population of 24 million.

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

After the IPO, Batelco will have a 15 per cent stake in Atheeb while Atheeb Group will hold 25 per cent. Other shareholders include private Nahla Company with 13.72 per cent and General Organisation for Social Insurance with five per cent.