OSN chief denies IPO plans

Kuwait Projects Company, which owns a 60.5 per cent stake in OSN, announced last year that it intended to IPO the company, sentiments that were repeated at the firm’s annual general meeting in March this year.
OSN had more than 1 million subscribers at the end of 2013, adding 160,000 new ones. Silvia Razgova / The National
OSN had more than 1 million subscribers at the end of 2013, adding 160,000 new ones. Silvia Razgova / The National

David Butorac, OSN’s chief executive, said that the pay-TV network has no current plan for an initial public offering, despite its largest shareholder having declared that an IPO would happen before the end of this year.

“We have no current plans for an IPO,” Mr Butorac said. “The shareholders have publicly articulated they are looking at the options for the future and one of those is to approach the equity markets. But as it stands today, we have no active plans or time frame.”

Kuwait Projects Company (Kipco), which owns a 60.5 per cent stake in OSN, had announced last year that it intended to take the company public, sentiments that were repeated at the firm’s annual general meeting this March. According to Reuters, Kipco’s deputy chairman Faisal Al Ayyar told journalists at the annual meeting that the company would “start the process within a few weeks” and that it was looking at a primary listing in London which would be completed by the end of 2014.

Kipco appointed the investment bank Rothschild back in June to carry out an assessment of the company and advise on a potential IPO.

Arqaam Capital has valued OSN at US$4.5 billion, based on expected growth in the pay-TV sector. Mr Butorac said that Arqaam’s valuation was inaccurate.

“OSN has a clear strategy and has executed it well,” said Philip Shepherd, a partner at PwC.

“As for the IPO process, they’re building that track record. Over the next year to 18 months, we will have at least two to three years of them demonstrating their approach to the market and aiming for the premium section of the market. It’s a shareholder choice, they’re interested in an IPO … Everything is indicating now that the Dubai stock market is open to business.”

OSN yesterday launched its online streaming service Go by OSN, which is to be available in 24 countries throughout the region.

OSN said that the service, similar to Netflix, will be available for US$10 a month and can be accessed via smartphones, tablets, laptops and soon on smart televisions. It said that the service will have more than 5,000 hours of licensed content from studios including Disney, Sony Entertainment and Paramount as well as 200 modern Arabic films.

OSN had more than 1 million subscribers at the end of 2013, having added 160,000 new ones.

The consultancy Frost & Sullivan expects the Middle East’s pay-TV sector to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 60 per cent over the next three years.

thamid@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @Ind_Insights

Published: May 18, 2014 04:00 AM

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