- Network of towers said to be worth as much as $2 billion
- Other bidders said to include Al Rajhi and Al Zamil groups
Saudi Arabian mobile operator Etihad Etisalat Co. picked investors including IHS Group Holdings Ltd. and Providence Equity Partners Inc. to submit second round bids for its cellular-tower network assets in the country, according to three people with knowledge of the matter.
Family-owned firms Al Rajhi Group and Al Zamil Group have also been chosen to bid for the assets, which could be worth as much as $2 billion, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Mobily, as the company is known, has delayed the bidding by a couple of months after recent management changes that saw the appointment of a new chief executive officer and chief financial officer, the people said. The process is expected to kick-off again in November, the people said.
Mobily lost more than $9 billion of its market value after accounting errors were discovered in November. Saudi Arabia’s market regulator began probing the company for suspected violations of rules related to the disclosure of financial information, market manipulation and insider trading, it said in February. Mobily appointed Ahmad Farroukh, former chief executive officer of MTN Group Ltd.’s South Africa unit as its new CEO and hired Kais Ben Hamida, who previously worked with Orange SA, Egyptian Co. for Mobile Services and Societe Generale SA, as its chief financial officer.
Carriers are selling towers in emerging markets such as the Middle East and Africa to reduce exposure to costly infrastructure. Kuwait’s largest mobile-phone operator is working with Citigroup Inc. on the possible sale of its tower network in two Gulf countries, which may fetch as much as $2 billion, people familiar with the matter said in January, while MTN Group Ltd. sold towers to IHS Holdings Ltd last year.
Mobily removed CEO Khalid Omar Al Kaf in February after saying accounting errors affected financial statements of 2013 and 2014. Mobily is an affiliate of Emirates Telecommunications Corp., the United Arab Emirates’ biggest phone company.
Representatives for IHS, Mobily and Providence declined to comment. Officials at Al Rajhi and Al Zamil weren’t immediately available to comment.