x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Bahrain's Batelco joins race for Zain's Saudi jewel

Batelco has made a "confidential and non-binding" offer for Zain's stake in its Saudi unit, pitting it against Kingdom Holding Company for control of the operator.

Batelco, the incumbent telecommunications operator in Bahrain, has made a bid for Zain's 25 per cent stake in its Saudi unit, the company announced.

Batelco now joins Kingdom Holding Company (KHC), the investment firm run by billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, in its pursuit for Zain's Saudi Arabian subsidiary.

Zain's Saudi Arabian subsidiary has been one of the focal points of Etisalat's takeover bid of its parent company. Etisalat, the UAE's largest telecommunications operator, has offered more than $11 billion (Dh40.4bn) for a 51 per cent stake in Zain worth 1.7 dinars per share.

Etisalat already operates in the kingdom under the Mobily brand and acquiring the Zain unit would not be allowed by Saudi Arabia's telecoms regulators.

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Peter Kaliaropoulos, the group chief executive for Batelco (CK), said that the operator submitted a "confidential and non-binding offer" to acquire the 25 per cent stake in Zain Saudi Arabia that its parent company owns.

"Our offer is subject to due diligence and a number of terms and conditions, including approvals from regulatory authorities such as Communications and Information Technology Commission and [the] Capital Market Authority, Zain Saudi Arabia Board Directors, and other relevant parties," Mr Kaliaropoulos said.

Batelco said that its offer is valid until February 16. KHC extended its original offer for Zain Saudi Arabia to this Sunday [February 13].

Zain's controlling stake in its Saudi unit is valued at about 2.77 billion riyals (Dh2.71bn). Eight Saudi Arabian companies own another 25 per cent of Zain while the state pension fund owns 3.5 per cent and the remaining 46 per cent is floated on the Tadawul.

 

dgeorgecosh@thenational.ae