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Tue 3 May 2016 02:43 PM

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Virgin Mobile MEA in talks for IPO

Telecoms company plans to list on a regional or European exchange to fund expansion plans

Virgin Mobile MEA in talks for IPO
Virgin Mobile MEA CEO and founder Mikkel Vinter.

Virgin Mobile’s Middle East and Africa (MEA) business has proposed an initial public offering (IPO) as it seeks to ramp up regional expansion plans.

The telecoms company, which operates in Oman, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Malaysia as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), is in talks with banks over a potential IPO on one of the regional stock exchanges, or even outside the region in cities such as London, according to its founder.

In an interview with Arabian Business, Virgin Mobile MEA CEO and founder Mikkel Vinter said: “We are studying the possibility of an IPO. The plans are still in the early stages, and we are in discussions with banks and monitoring local exchanges.”

He added: “We have not taken any final decisions on which exchange to choose, but there are a range of options, including Dubai Financial Market (DFM), Saudi Arabia’s Takaful, Qatar Stock Exchange, Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange and of course the London Stock Exchange and others outside the region.”

Vinter said the business – which does not have a licence to operate in the UAE and or some other countries across the GCC, including Qatar and Bahrain – does not have to be active in a particular market to list on the local exchange.

However, he said there are “pros and cons of each – listing rules, liquidity issues and so on, and all of these are under consideration at present.”

The IPO is unlikely to take place this year and will depend on market conditions and ongoing evaluations of the business.

Virgin Mobile MEA last year made $200 million of revenues, representing double-digit growth from 2014, Vinter revealed, adding that the company is performing well this year and expects similar growth in 2016.

It plans to expand in the region, in particular North Africa, he said, adding that the company is in the process of securing a licence in Tunisia, which should be awarded by the second half of this year.

The company aims to expand in the GCC when UAE and other governments open up the market to MVNOs, and an IPO would help the company to implement these plans, he said.

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