Kuwait's KIPCO set to start IPO process for pay-TV unit

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David Butorac, CEO of Orbit Showtime Network. (Photo for illustrative purposes only)

David Butorac, CEO of Orbit Showtime Network. (Photo for illustrative purposes only)

Kuwait Projects Co (KIPCO), the Gulf state's largest listed investment company, plans to start the process for an initial public offering (IPO) of shares by its pay-television unit OSN within weeks, it said on Monday

Deputy chairman Faisal al-Ayyar said he hoped the bourse listing would be completed by the end of this year, and that he was looking at a primary listing in London.

"We start the process within a few weeks," Ayyar told reporters on the sidelines of KIPCO's annual general meeting.

Asked where OSN would list, he said: "It depends on how much corporate governance is needed, and how much is needed as a stake to be sold ... all things are tilted towards London, but not as GDR (global depositary receipts), as a primary listing."

He did not say which banks were involved in the process.

The OSN network operates in the Middle East and North Africa. Ayyar said it currently had around $700 million in annual revenues which he expects to double over the next three years.

KIPCO said in February the network had nearly a million subscribers.

KIPCO, an investment house with stakes in media, industrial, financial and real estate companies, said in June it was planning to list OSN. It currently has a 60.5 percent stake.

KIPCO hired financial group Rothschild to advise on the IPO.

Last year brokerage Arqaam Capital said it had raised its valuation of OSN to $4.3 billion from the previous estimate of $2.5 billion, an increase of 72 percent.

Ayyar said KIPCO expected group revenues and profit to grow by a double digit percentage each year over the next three years.

KIPCO reported a 75 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit in February, saying OSN had performed strongly.

Net profit in the three months to the end of December was KD14 million ($49.7 million), compared with KD8 million in the same period the year before.

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