DUBAI: Ooredoo, Qatar’s No.1 telecom operator, may list on the London Stock Exchange or another major bourse as it seeks to attract more liquidity to its shares, its CEO said.
A listing outside the Gulf would also complement the company’s push for a bigger international profile, having changed its name from Qatar Telecom in February.
“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, it’s most of the companies in the region,” Chief Executive Nasser Marafih told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference here.
“We are looking at London and others — there’s no specific date and plan yet,” Marafih said. “If it’s possible, I think we will do it.”
Ooredoo shares listed on the Qatar Exchange are up 34 percent this year, but remain 8.6 percent below a 2005 peak. The company in July posted a 44 percent jump in second-quarter net profit to QR923m ($254m). Only 21 percent of Ooredoo’s shares are in free float, since Qatar directly owns 52 percent and a further 17 percent are held by other government-linked entities. Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, has a 10 percent stake.
Marafih said Ooredoo’s major shareholders were not seeking to reduce their stakes.
Ooredoo’s Qatar listing has averaged daily trading of 70,779 shares in the past two years, according to Reuters calculations. The stock is also listed on the Abu Dhabi Exchange, but this sees minimal trading with only 112,588 shares changing hands this year.
Earlier this month Ooredoo’s chief strategy officer Jeremy Sell told a conference the company’s rebranding was a business imperative. “It enhances customer recognition, increases our collective value,” he said. “Our people feel much more engaged in a group rather than a collection of privately owned businesses.”
Ooredoo already operates in 15 markets in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The group’s Indonesian unit Indosat acquired a 5 percent stake in PT Tower Bersama Infrastructure when Indosat sold 2,500 towers to Bersama for $406m in February 2012 and this stake could now be sold, Marafih said.
“Indosat is looking at an opportunity to maybe sell that, because the money could be used for other purposes — investing in infrastructure, expanding the network,” he said. Tower Bersama has a stock market value of $2.44bn, Reuters data shows, making a 5 percent stake worth $121.8 million.
Ooredoo owns 65 percent of Indosat, which accounts for 63 percent of the Qatari firm’s customers, 26 percent of revenue and 49 percent of capital expenditure, according to its 2012 annual report.