Wataniya Palestine IPO raises US$75 million

Rebecca Hawkes | 06-12-2010

The initial public offering (IPO) for telecommunications operator Wataniya Palestine has been oversubscribed by 1.5 times, showing the appetite for the mobile market remains keen.

Based on a fixed price of $1.3 per share, the IPO raised over $75 million for Wataniya Palestine, which had aimed to raise $50 million from the sale of 15% of its stock, to realise its network expansion plans.

Wataniya Palestine is the territory’s second mobile operator, currently registering about 310,000 subscribers, or around 20% of the market it shares with Paltel. It launched services in November 2009.

“I’ve been blown away,” Michael Bevan, the head of MENA equity capital markets at HSBC, the sole book-runner for the offer, told The National. “Telecoms is a good sector for difficult times because people always want to use their mobile.”

Bevan also told the Abu Dhabi newspaper that the young company has growth potential, which attracted buyers to the stock offering.

At the launch of the IPO in early November, Reuters reported that a further 15% of the mobile operator’s stock will be offered at a later date.

Wataniya Palestine was 53% owned by Qatar’s Qtel and 47% by the Palestine Investment Fund (PIF) which is in turn owned by the Palestinian Authority. These stakes are reportedly to drop to 40% and 30% respectively, once 30% has been sold to the public.