By Dinesh Nair
DUBAI, June 23 Dubai Holding, the conglomerate
owned by the ruler of Dubai, has hired Citigroup to advise
on a potential sale of its remaining 26 percent stake in mobile
telephone retailer Axiom Telecom, three sources aware of the
The stake is held by Dubai Holding unit Emirates
International Telecommunications LLC (EIT), but the U.S. lender
was hired by the holding company, which is taking the lead in
the process, the sources said, speaking on condition of
anonymity as the matter is not public.
Axiom's chief executive Faisal Al Bannai told Reuters that
options could include a private placement of shares in the
company or a revival of a plan for an initial public offer that
was shelved in 2010.
"As a company we're always studying what are the best
options to capture value for shareholders. These options include
an IPO or a private sale," Bannai said by telephone on Sunday.
An EIT spokesperson said: "Like any investment company, EIT
is always evaluating exit options that are in line with its
The spokesperson added, "EIT continues to be committed to
investing within the communications sector and to actively
managing its portfolio companies to drive value creation."
EIT did not elaborate, and Citigroup declined to comment.
A recovery in the real estate sector is aiding a revival of
economic growth in Dubai after the emirate's 2009-2010 corporate
debt crisis, but it has yet to make much progress in selling
some of its state-linked assets, the main means of repaying its
Dubai Holding is among the matrix of firms which were badly
hit by the crisis; many of its units have had to hold talks with
banks to extend liabilities and restructure debt.
Sources have previously told Reuters that Dubai Holding was
considering selling its remaining stake in Axiom, adding that a
sale would likely raise about $300 million for the conglomerate.
Dubai-based Axiom, set up in 1997 by Bannai, employs over
1,500 people and has over 500 outlets across the United Arab
Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Britain
and India, according to its website.
Axiom sold a 35 percent stake in itself to Qatar's Mannai
Corp for an undisclosed amount in 2011 after deciding
against a share listing. EIT sold a 14 percent stake in Axiom at
"There is a chance that Mannai may further increase their
stake in Axiom and take a controlling stake. However, it's a
good business and there will be other interested parties who
want to cash in on the retail boom in the region," one banking
EIT is seeking to sell its 35 percent stake in state-owned
Tunisie Telecom, which it bought for $2.25 billion in 2006, the
Tunisian government said on Friday.