Wataniya Palestine offering 1.5 times oversubscribed

06 December 2010

Wataniya is largest company to be listed on Palestine Exchange by paid-up capital

Mobile telecoms operator Wataniya Palestine’s initial public offering (IPO) closed 1.5 times oversubscribed on 2 December on the back of strong retail demand.

Wataniya received bids for 58.05 million shares compared with 38.7 million on offer for a 15 per cent stake in the company. Shares were priced at $1.30 each.

“We aimed to raise $50.3m, but we got $75m. This is very encouraging and it is a vote of confidence in the company,” says Mohammad Mustafa, chairman of Wataniya Palestine.

“We are the biggest company to be listed in terms of the paid-up capital, which is $258m.”

In addition to strong demand from retail investors in Palestine, the offering also received interest from a broad base of international institutional investors, predominantly from Europe and the Middle East.

Proceeds raised from the offer will be used for general business and operational purposes, as well as to assist the funding of the balance of fees payable under the company’s operating licence.

Wataniya will begin trading on the Nablus-based Palestine Exchange (PEX) in early January 2011. The listing of its shares will raise the market capitalisation about 14 per cent.

HSBC Middle East is the global coordinator and book-runner for the IPO, while Jordan’s Arab Bank is the regional coordinator and underwriter.

Wataniya broke the monopoly of Jawwal, owned by the Palestine Telecommunications Company (Paltel) when it began functioning as the second Palestinian mobile operator in November 2009.

It has beaten forecasts for subscriber growth with more than 310,000 customers today, covering 95 per cent of the Palestinian population in the West Bank, which equates to a mobile market share of 19 per cent. It generated revenues of $24.7m in the first nine months of 2010.

Today, there are 41 companies listed on the PEX with a combined market capitalisation of about $2.5bn.

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