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24 April 2024

Vodafone Qatar anticipates new IPO date


By Reuters

The Qatari unit of Vodafone Group expects the capital markets regulator to set a new date for its delayed initial public offering next month, a company spokeswoman said on Thursday.

Vodafone had planned to sell a 40 per cent stake in the operator last October, but did not get the required approvals from the Qatar Financial Markets Authority (QFMA).

"Because of market conditions the QFMA told us to hold off and propose a new date, which we did," the spokeswoman told Reuters.

The group had suggested holding the IPO before November 30, "but we haven't been given the go-ahead", she said. "We will be given a date next month."

Vodafone Qatar was still on track to turn on its mobile phone network on March 1, the spokeswoman said, adding that the network would have a capacity of 1 million customers.

"We will have customers on the first day but we don't know how many. It will be a phased launch approach," she said.

The company will compete with state-controlled Qatar Telecommunications Co (Qtel), which until now has run the country's only mobile and fixed-line networks.

Negotiations between Vodafone Qatar and Qtel about interconnection charges – charges applied to customers calling across networks – were still ongoing, the spokeswoman said.

Vodafone, which won the bid for Qatar's second mobile telephone licence for $2.12 billion (Dh7.8bn) in December 2007, also intends to sell a 15 per cent stake in the business to local institutional investors, leaving it and local partner Qatar Foundation with 45 per cent.

In June 2008, the group also won a tender for Qatar's second fixed-line licence.

Qatar is the world's biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas and home to about 1.4 million people.

Officials at the QFMA were not immediately available for comment.