DUBAI Jan 30 Zain Saudi has extended
the maturity of a 9 billion-riyal ($2.40 billion) Islamic loan
for another four weeks, it said on Wednesday, the seventh time
the loss-making telecoms operator has deferred payment.
The company, an affiliate of Kuwait's Zain, has
agreed with lending banks to put back the maturity of the
murabaha facility - a sharia-compliant cost-plus-profit
arrangement - which was originally due in 2011 until Feb. 27, it
said in a statement to Saudi Arabia's bourse.
The operator, which reported a reduced fourth-quarter loss,
said it would use the extension to conclude negotiations with
lenders over a new long-term financing agreement, but also
warned the existing facility could be further extended.
It cited similar reasons when announcing previous
extensions, with the most recent ending on Jan. 30.
The original 9.75 billion riyals facility was agreed in July
2009 - Zain Saudi repaid 750 million riyals from part of the
proceeds of last year's capital restructuring - and was arranged
by Banque Saudi Fransi.
Zain Saudi has not made a quarterly net profit since
launching operations in 2008 and its debts stood at 19.5 billion
riyals as of Dec. 31.
The operator has struggled to compete against
better-resourced rivals Saudi Telecom Co (STC) and
Mobily, an affiliate of United Arab Emirates' Etisalat
, which between them dominate the market.
Zain Saudi's shares ended 6.1 percent higher on the Saudi
bourse, taking their gains to 13.8 percent since Nov. 28's
(Editing by Greg Mahlich)