Oman awards new fixed-line telco license

Updated 27 November 2012
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Oman awards new fixed-line telco license

DUBAI: Oman has granted a fixed-line telecommunications license for the greater Muscat area to a consortium of Awaser Oman Co. and Hong Kong's PCCW International, the regulator said yesterday, a decision that may squeeze earnings at Oman's existing operators.
The license is valid for the Governorate of Muscat — home to about a quarter of Oman's estimated 2.8 million people — and will enable the consortium to provide fixed-line data and voice services for 25 years. PCCW International is a subsidiary of PCCW Ltd.
The consortium will compete against Oman Telecommunications Co. (Omantel) and Nawras, a subsidiary of Qatar Telecom (Qtel).
As the former monopoly, Omantel has an extensive fixed-line network and this provided just over half of its revenue for the nine months to Sept. 30, according to Reuters calculations. Fixed-line accounted for 18.5 percent of Nawras's third-quarter revenue.
The Awaser-PCCW license was awarded as fixed-line services lag mobile, which had penetration of 180 percent — or 1.8 mobile subscriptions per person — at the end of June, according to Oman's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

Many people hold multiple mobile SIM cards and switch provider depending on which has the best offers for local and international services, with Omantel also hosting two mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). MVNOs lease network capacity and usually target a particular economic or ethnic group.
Fixed-line take-up has been sluggish in comparison — penetration was only 10.7 percent at the end of June, up 0.6 percentage point since mid-2011, with just over a quarter of households using the Internet on a fixed connection.
Yet fixed-line Internet services are lucrative, with a monthly average revenue per user (ARPU) of 32.071 rials ($83.30) in the second quarter, up 1.3 percent from the previous quarter. Mobile broadband penetration was 51 percent at the end of June.


NMC Health’s $450 million bond to boost Saudi expansion

Updated 23 April 2018
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NMC Health’s $450 million bond to boost Saudi expansion

  • The new capital structure — which will feature a mixture of unsecured bank and bond financing — will aid the company’s continued growth into Saudi Arabia.
  • The company first secured a foothold in the Kingdom in 2016 after acquiring a 70 percent stake in As Salama Hospital in Al-Khobar.

LONDON: The UAE-based private health care operator NMC Health has launched a $450 million senior unsecured guaranteed bond to help pay off an existing $1 billion bridge facility and support its expansion plans into Saudi Arabia.

The earlier bridging loan was part of the $2 billion capital structure refinancing put in place at the start of the year, the company said.

The bond is due in 2025 and is convertible into ordinary shares. JP Morgan is the sole bookrunner on the issuance. Bonds will have a fixed coupon rate of 1.875 percent, paid semi-annually.

The new capital structure — which will feature a mixture of unsecured bank and bond financing — will aid the company’s continued growth into Saudi Arabia, with NMC having been one of the first private health care providers to capitalize on the Saudi government’s health care privatization plans.

The company first secured a foothold in the Kingdom in 2016 after acquiring a 70 percent stake in As Salama Hospital in Al-Khobar.

Since then, NMC won regulatory approval last September for a new long-term care facility, the Chronic Care Specialty Medical Center, in Jeddah. It is though to be the first greenfield medical facility in the Kingdom to be set up by a non-Saudi company.

Earlier this year, NMC said it acquired an 80 percent stake in the Riyadh-based Al-Salam Medical Group.

NMC’s acquisition-led expansion strategy aims to ensure the company retains its recently-won place on London’s FTSE 100 index. It was one of the first Middle Eastern companies to join the index when it qualified last September. It first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2012.

The company posted strong growth in the last year, reporting $209.3 million in net profit for 2017, an increase of 38.2 percent on the previous year. The company paid out a total of $641 million in acquisitions last year.

“2017 proved to be a year of tremendous achievements for NMC,” said the firm’s chief executive Prasanth Manghat, in a statement in March.

NMC also secured secured its first public ratings of BB+ with a stable outlook from S&P on April 20, while Moody’s gave the firm rating of Ba1 with a stable outlook on April 20, 2018. The bonds are not expected to be rated.

“The company continues to strive to meet self-imposed standards that are higher when compared to what is expected of it by various regulators. This approach supports in turn its resilient business model, loyal customer base, strong brand recognition and market leading position,” according to a statement from Moody’s Investors Service.

Investors are so far reacting favorably to NMC’s strategy, with the company closing at a record high on April 20, according to Bloomberg reports, with a market value of $10.8 billion.

The company is now one of 24 equities in the region to have achieved a market capitalization of more than $10 billion, the report said.

Healthcare is seen as a lucrative sector in the Gulf due to its relatively wealthy population becoming increasingly at risk of problems related to obesity and diseases such as type 2 diabetes.