Oman gov't raises $530m from Omantel stake sale

Government's holding in telecom operator will drop to 51% after offloading 19% stake
Oman gov't raises $530m from Omantel stake sale
Arab mobile phone, telcos, telecommunications generic
By Reuters
Wed 23 Apr 2014 01:46 PM

Oman's government raised nearly OR204 million ($530 million) from its sale of a 19 percent stake in Omantel, part of efforts to revive its privatisation programme, a Muscat bourse statement said on Wednesday.

The government's holding in the telecommunications operator will drop to 51 percent following the completion of the second and final part of the share sale.

Each tranche - the first a private placement for institutions and wealthy individuals, the second a public offer for retail investors - sold 71.25 million shares.

The two-week retail part, which closed on April 13, was 1.05 times subscribed, according to the statement. This tranche was worth OR96.2 million, the statement said, suggesting the shares were sold at 1.350 rials each, according to Reuters calculations - below the stock's market price of 1.48 rials in intra-day trade on Wednesday.

The institutional part, completed in March, was 1.99 times subscribed and attracted bids ranging from 1.50 to 1.90 rials per share. The cut-off price at which the placement was fully subscribed was 1.511 rials per share, authorities said earlier.

Shares from the retail segment will be allotted on a proportional basis, so subscribers will receive 95 percent of the shares for which they applied. Refunds will start on April 23, with the shares available for trading "by early next week", Wednesday's statement said.

Omantel shares are down 2 percent from last year's close, marginally underperforming a 1 percent drop by the main stock market index.

The government owns more than 60 companies across the economy, and Minister for Financial Affairs Darwish al-Balushi has said some will be privatised.

Local media quoted officials in March as saying the government, which faces increasing pressure on state finances because of rising spending on social welfare and infrastructure projects, planned to divest its stakes in 11 firms. But a timetable and other details were not given.

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