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Tue 4 Oct 2011 06:50 PM

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Kuwait's Wataniya plans second listing in Qatar

Telco's chief exec says move is designed to give Qataris access to company's stock

Kuwait's Wataniya plans second listing in Qatar
Arab mobile phone, telcos, telecommunications generic

Kuwait's National Mobile Telecommunications Co (Wataniya), which is majority-owned by Qatar Telecommunications (Qtel), plans to launch a dual listing on the Doha exchange by the year-end, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

"(The) Qatar listing is still on the cards, but has taken a bit of time because of issues between the exchanges. They have asked for more information," Scott Gegenheimer told reporters on the sidelines of a conference. "It's planned before the year-end."

The dual listing is meant to give Qataris access to the company's stock without going to the Kuwaiti market, said Gegenheimer.

The executive said Wataniya, which also operates in North Africa, the Maldives and the Palestinian Territories, still intended to launch an initial public offering for its private mobile operator, Tunisiana.

But the IPO is not a regulatory requirement, Gegenheimer said, adding that the company has not set a specific timeline for it as market conditions were still under review.

"In the past we talked about (floating) 10 to 15 percent, but no decision has been made," Gegenheimer said.

An IPO for Tunisiana, founded in 2002 and the only private telecommunications firm in the North African state, had been touted in the first half of 2011 but plans were shelved due to regional unrest.

Gegenheimer said Tunisiana had yet to decide whether to make it a dual listing.

"One of the concerns is that if you (offer) too much, say 20 percent for instance, (can) the local market take that up? There's a lot of appetite, but also a lot of uncertainty."

Wataniya boosted its ownership in Tunisiana, which claims more than 60 percent of the country's mobile subscribers, to 75 percent in January at the height Tunisia's popular revolt.

Gegenheimer said Wataniya is undeterred by the revolution's aftermath, despite Tunisia's economy suffering from a lack of tourism and business development. And unlike rival Tunisie Telecom in May, Tunisiana did not suffer from strikes by its workers.

"We haven't seen any major fall-outs per se from the revolution... We continue to gain a lot of market share. It hasn't changed anything internally in the company," he said.

Wataniya gets about 20 percent of its revenues from data, said Gegenheimer, making up for any declines in other services.

He added average revenue per user (ARPU) is always under pressure. "Voice is dropping, but data and value-added services are offsetting that, so ARPU over the past couple of years hasn't really dropped."

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