Telco Zain Saudi extends life on $3bn of loans

Loss-making telecoms operator will use the extension to conclude negotiations with lenders over long-term financing agreement

GCC telecoms

GCC telecoms

Zain Saudi has extended the maturity on $3 billion of loans for up to five weeks, the loss-making telecoms operator said in a bourse statement on Tuesday.

The company, an affiliate of Kuwait's Zain, has extended a 9 billion-riyal ($2.4 billion) Islamic loan maturing on Tuesday until May 29 after getting the agreement of lenders.

This murabaha facility - a sharia-compliant cost-plus-profit arrangement - was originally due in 2011, but has been put back multiple times.

Zain Saudi, which has yet to make a quarterly net profit since launching services in 2008, said it would use the extension to conclude negotiations with lenders over a new long-term financing agreement. This is likely to be for five years, it said.

The operator has extended another $600 million facility due on Wednesday to June 5.

Zain Saudi had liabilities of 19.5 billion riyals at the end of 2012 and has struggled to compete against better-resourced rivals Saudi Telecom Co and Mobily, an affiliate of United Arab Emirates' Etisalat, which between them claim nearly 85 percent of the kingdom's mobile subscribers.

Zain Saudi's shares ended 4.9 percent lower on Tuesday, while the main market index rose 0.2 percent.

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