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Wataniya Mobile Plans to Raise $50 Million From IPO

Wataniya Palestine Mobile Telecommunications Public Shareholding Co., known as Wataniya Mobile, plans to raise $50.3 million by selling 15 percent of its shares in an initial public offering.

The stock will be sold at $1.30 apiece from Nov. 7 to Dec. 2, the company said in an e-mailed statement. HSBC Bank Middle East Ltd. will be the global coordinator and bookrunner for the IPO, while Arab Bank Group will be the regional coordinator.

"There is still a lot of potential for growth in our home market," Wataniya Mobile Chief Executive Officer Bassam Hannoun said in a telephone interview today. "That’s why we’ve chosen to sell shares now." Wataniya Mobile plans to sell 38.7 million shares and proceeds from the sale will be used for network expansion, Hannoun said.

Middle East companies are joining a surge in share sales in the emerging markets as stock markets rebound and companies restructure their debt. Nawras, the Omani mobile phone company, will start trading shares from Nov. 1. Aluminium Bahrain BSC is seeking to raise as much as 204 million dinar ($541 million) from an initial share sale and Axiom Telecom LLC, a unit of a Dubai-based phone retailer, plans to sell a 35 percent stake in an IPO by the end of the year.

Wataniya Mobile, the second mobile phone company in the Palestinian territories, started operations in November 2009. Since then its subscriber base has risen to 302,000 from 110,000, Hannoun said. The company increased its market share to 19.2 percent at the end of third quarter from 9.3 percent in the fourth quarter of last year.

The share sale will give Wataniya Mobile a market capitalization of $335.4 million, and the company will list its shares on the Palestine Exchange, according to the statement.

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