Qatar telecom firm Ooredoo planning to list on foreign bourse

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Ooredoo, Qatar’s majority state-owned telecoms operator, is looking to list on the London Stock Exchange or another major bourse in a bid to bring more liquidity to its shares, the company's CEO said on Monday.

"We have been looking at [a further listing] for some time because one of the issues is the liquidity of the shares - it's not only us, its most of the companies in the region," said Nasser Marafih at Dubai’s GSMA telecoms conference, according to Reuters.

The telecoms firm, which has operations in 15 markets in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, is already listed on the Qatar Exchange.

Matthew Reed, a UAE-based analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media, said a listing on another exchange will not have a “huge significance” for Ooredeoo, but said that the move would give the company better access to a wider pool of investors.

“They are becoming quite a big international player, and they have further ambitions to grow,” Reed told Al Arabiya, noting that such a listing could fit in with their business goals.

Speaking at the conference, Marafih called for more cooperation between governments and operators.

“We believe today that there is there isn’t enough [cooperation] there between government and operators,” he said. “There are, increasingly, operators under pressure by mobile regulators by which they are imposing more license fees,” added Marafih.

Reed noted that mobile technologies were often considered a big potential growth sector in developing countries, sometimes leading to heavy taxes on telecom services which can be problematic for operators.

“There is a bit of a tendency in many emerging markets to look at the money that is associated with telecoms and to see the opportunity to sell licenses as a bit of a money-spinner,” said the analyst.


Radical renaming

Ooredoo changed its name from Qatar Telecom in February as part of the firm’s rebranding strategy.

Marafih told Al Arabiya on the sidelines of the conference that the rebranding was “well-received” in its home turf of Qatar, but said that rebranding globally would be a gradual process.

“We are in the process of pushing that brand forth in Tunis and Algeria in the coming months, but we have to do this gradually,” he said.

Ooredoo's Qatar-listed shares are up 34 percent this year. In July, the company reported a 44 percent increase in second-quarter net profit to 923 million Qatari riyals ($254 million), according to Reuters.

Just 21 percent of the company’s share are currently floated on the exchange, as the Qatari government and other state-backed entities own 69 percent. An additional 10 percent stake is owned by Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world.

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