(Recasts with govt statement that it has begun paying minority investors)
By Matt Smith
DUBAI, April 30 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia began to compensate shareholders in Saudi Integrated Telecom Co (SITC) for their stakes in the ailing firm on Wednesday, a statement on the Ministry of Finance website said.
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.
However, a Finance Ministry statement now says state-run National Commercial Bank will start paying investors from Wednesday, although it does not state how long this process will take.
The ministry has taken ownership of the stakes owned by non-founding shareholders, according to a separate bourse statement, and will participate in the liquidation of SITC.
The company’s 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 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. ($1 = 3.7505 Saudi Riyals) (Reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and William Hardy)