Saudi miner sees growth in African fertilizer

Riyadh-based Ma’aden, which focuses on gold, phosphates, aluminum and industrial minerals, has agreed to buy an 85 percent stake in Mauritius-based Meridian Group for SR525 million. (AFP)
Updated 18 April 2019

Saudi miner sees growth in African fertilizer

  • Meridian deal allows Ma’aden to distribute its fertilizers to key growth markets in sub-Saharan Africa more efficiently
  • Reflects a broader push among major Saudi commodities-based companies to diversify their revenue streams and move into higher-value growth sectors

LONDON: Saudi miner Ma’aden is investing in an African fertilizer company as it looks to diversify operations beyond the Kingdom.
The Riyadh-based group, which focuses on gold, phosphates, aluminum and industrial minerals, has agreed to buy an 85 percent stake in Mauritius-based Meridian Group for SR525 million ($140 million).
It plans to acquire the remaining 15 percent over the next four years.
The deal allows Ma’aden to distribute its fertilizers to key growth markets in sub-Saharan Africa more efficiently.
“Meridian distributes close to half a million tons of fertilizer across Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia,” said Ma’aden in a stock exchange statement on Thursday.
“The acquisition furthers Ma’aden’s 2025 strategy, which includes expanding operations and sales outside the Kingdom,” it added.
The deal reflects a broader push among major Saudi commodities-based companies to diversify their revenue streams and move into higher-value growth sectors.


STC postpones its acquisition of Vodafone Egypt for second time

Updated 43 min 11 sec ago

STC postpones its acquisition of Vodafone Egypt for second time

  • Kingdom’s largest telecom company says it will need an additional two months to complete the deal

CAIRO: The Saudi Telecom Company (STC), the Kingdom’s largest telecom company, said that it will need an additional two months to complete a deal to purchase a 55 percent stake in Vodafone Egypt.

In January, STC was in agreement to buy the stake for $2.4 billion. In April, it extended the process for 90 days due to logistical challenges stemming from the spread of COVD-19. The company said in a statement that it would extend the period again to September for the same reason.

The Public Investment Fund, the Saudi sovereign wealth fund, owns a majority stake in STC. The ownership of Vodafone Egypt is divided between 55 percent for Vodafone International, which is the target percentage of the Saudi purchase offer, 44.8 percent for Telecom Egypt, and the remaining 0.2 percent for small shareholders.

Telecom Egypt is awaiting the results of Vodafone’s evaluation of the final share price to announce its position on the deal. A Telecom Egypt official stated that the company is still awaiting STC’s position regarding the purchase of the share. If the deal is not completed, it may be presented with its rights to acquire Vodafone’s share, which would allow it to take over 99.8 percent of the company’s shares, leaving 0.2 percent for small investors.

Ashraf El-Wardany, an Egyptian communications expert, pointed out the importance of waiting until the procedures between STC and the Vodafone Group are complete. The results will determine the next steps by Telecom Egypt.

El-Wardany said that the Saudi operator must, after completing the relevant studies, submit a final binding offer at the share price and any conditions for purchase. If approved by Vodafone, it must submit the offer with the same conditions and price to Telecom Egypt, provided that the latter responds within a maximum period of 45 days to determine its position regarding the use of the right of pre-emption and the purchase, or lack thereof, of Vodafone’s share.

According to El-Wardany, there are other possible scenarios. Vodafone International may not be convinced of the offer or the conditions presented by the Saudi side and the sale may be withdrawn, or the Vodafone group may be ready to sell and has prepared another buyer for its stake in Egypt in the event of rejecting the Saudi offer. It may also it back away from the deal and continue to operate in Egypt for a few more years.

El-Wardany said that if Telecom Egypt decides not to use the right of pre-emption to acquire the remaining Vodafone shares for any reason, it will continue with its 44.8 percent stake.
It may also resort to selling all of its shares or part of it to the Saudi side or to any company that wants to acquire its stake.

“This raises the question of whether STC can acquire all of Vodafone’s shares,” El-Wardany said, adding that the coming months “will make the answer clear.”