UAE telecoms company e& in talks to raise stake in Saudi Arabia's Mobily

Formerly known as Etisalat, e& owns a 28% stake in the Saudi company

The UAE's biggest telecom operator, e&, owns a 28 per cent stake in Saudi Arabia's Mobily. Photo: Mobily

The UAE’s biggest telecoms operator, e&, has made an offer to increase its stake in Saudi telecoms company Etihad Etisalat, better known as Mobily, to 50 per cent and one share.

Formerly known as Etisalat, e& owns a 28 per cent stake in Mobily, which was founded in 2004.

"The purpose of the discussions is for e& to come to an understanding with the Mobily board of directors in respect of the conditions applicable to the potential offer (including its implementation) which the Mobily board would be able to recommend to Mobily’s shareholders," e& said in a regulatory filing on Wednesday to Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, where its shares are traded.

Abu Dhabi-based e& has proposed a price of 47 Saudi riyals ($12.53) per Mobily share through a pre-conditional partial tender offer.

The offer by e& is expected to strengthen its existing ties with Mobily and is in line with its "strategic objectives to expand and optimise its portfolio by pursuing opportunities within its existing footprint", the Abu Dhabi telecoms company said.

Founded in 1976, e& is the UAE's oldest telecoms company with operations in countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa, and more than 156 million customers.

The company reported a 3 per cent increase in 2021 net profit to Dh9.3 billion ($2.5bn) last month, with revenue rising 3 per cent annually to Dh53.3bn.

The operator is also exploring the development of 6G, the next generation mobile network that will allow for much faster and more sophisticated technology use.

Prior to its rebranding, e& also acquired an additional stake in Maroc Telecom Group in August, increasing its ownership to 53 per cent from 48.4 per cent.

The company is only at a discussions stage with Mobily at this point and there was "no certainty" that the potential offer will be made or "whether the Mobily board will recommend such an offer if it is eventually made", e& said.

"E& has not declared a firm intention to make the potential offer at this time. Subject to applicable regulations, e& remains able to formally launch an offer at any time should it choose to do so, without having to come to an understanding with the Mobily board," the statement said.

The UAE operator has appointed HSBC Saudi Arabia as independent financial adviser and Khalid Al-Thebity Law Firm in affiliation with Squire Patton Boggs (US) as legal adviser to assist with the offer, it said.

Mobily has appointed JP Morgan Saudi Arabia Company and Riyad Capital Company as joint financial advisers, and Abuhimed Alsheikh Alhagbani Law Firm as legal adviser for the transaction, it said in a separate filing to the Saudi stock exchange.

Updated: March 16, 2022, 10:25 AM
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