Saudi govt acquires minority investors' shares in ailing telco

DUBAI, April 30 Wed Apr 30, 2014 6:36am EDT

DUBAI, April 30 (Reuters) - Shareholders in Saudi Integrated Telecom Co (SITC), which is due to be wound up, could be compensated earlier than expected after Saudi Arabia's finance ministry acquired minority investors' shares.

Last week, a royal decree declared that investors in SITC - excluding founding shareholders - would receive 30 riyals ($8) per share for their stakes in the company, a 23 percent premium on the stock's last traded price of 24.35 riyals.

A lawyer for SITC's minority shareholders had told Reuters he expected it would take a few months for his clients to receive their money, but a Riyadh bourse statement on Wednesday said the Ministry of Finance has now taken ownership of these shares.

This did not say whether minority investors had yet been paid, but may indicate they will be compensated sooner than previously thought.

SITC shares were suspended in February 2013. A royal decree last May ordered the liquidation of the firm, which never launched services despite making a winning 1 billion riyals ($266.64 million) bid for a fixed telecom licence in 2007.

SITC's founding shareholders, which include chairman Prince Saud bin Khaled bin Abdullah al-Saud, own the majority of the company. (Reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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