Saudi Telecom Headed for Eight-Month High on Axis Stake Sale

Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) headed for the highest close in more than eight months after the Persian Gulf’s second-biggest phone company agreed to sell its stake in PT Axis Telekom Indonesia.

The Riyadh-based operator gained 2.4 percent to 43.3 riyals at 12:51 p.m. in Riyadh, boosting its market capitalization to 86 billion riyals ($23 billion). That’s the highest level on a closing basis since Jan. 20. More than four million shares were traded, almost five times the three-month average. The stock was the most-traded by value on the benchmark Tadawul All Share Index (SASEIDX), which slipped 0.2 percent.

PT XL Axiata Tbk. (EXCL), a unit of Malaysia’s largest mobile-phone operator, will acquire Axis from Saudi Telecom and settle $865 million of the closely held carrier’s debts, according to a stock exchange filing in Kuala Lumpur today. XL Axiata, a 66.5 percent-owned subsidiary of Axiata Group Bhd. (AXIATA), is paying $100 cash for the share capital of Axis.

The transaction requires regulatory approval from Indonesia, in addition to approval from XL shareholders, Saudi Telecom said in a statement to the nation’s stock exchange. Nine analysts have a buy rating on the phone company, while seven recommend investors hold the shares, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

To contact the reporter on this story: Deema Almashabi in Riyadh at dalmashabi@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net

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