Zain Saudi Arabia in talks to refinance $2.5bn loan

Kingdom's third largest telco said to be in discussions with lenders over Islamic loan

Zain Saudi Arabia, the country's third-largest mobile operator, is in talks with lenders to refinance its $2.5bn Islamic syndicated loan that matures in July, banking sources close to the deal said.

The firm has come under pressure to restructure its capital after losses pushed it close to a limit on capital losses imposed by the bourse.

The original Murabaha loan was secured in 2009 to back the company's network expansion, with two tranches consisting of $775m and SR6.46bn ($1.72bn).

The company, an affiliate of Kuwait's Zain, extended the maturity for the deal - which was three years and four months - by six months to July 27 in January.

Both tranches were priced at 425 basis points (bps) over LIBOR and included a bullet repayment. Bookrunners were Al Rajhi Banking and Investment Corp and Credit Agricole CIB.

Zain Saudi was not available to comment.

The telecoms operator posted an 11 percent decline in losses in January, bringing the firm's accumulated losses to about SR9.6bn, around two-thirds of the company's SR14bn of share capital.

The results followed Kingdom Holding and Bahrain Batelco's failed $950m offer for a 25 percent stake in Zain Saudi after disagreements brought negotiations to a standstill in September last year.

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