Saudi Telecom Company (STC) will increase its stake in Kuwaiti mobile player Viva to 51.8 per cent, after falling short of its original aim to gain 100 per cent of the company.
The Saudi incumbent, which already owns 26 per cent of Viva, will buy an additional 25.8 per cent at a price of KWD1 ($3) per share, valuing the deal at approximately SAR1.59 billion ($424 million), according to a statement posted on the Saudi Stock Exchange.
STC said in December it wanted to buy the full 74 per cent stake which it did not already own, but questions were raised over the offer price by Viva’s board at the time.
Viva argued that the KWD1 offer per share was not high enough, but ultimately ruled the decision to sell or not was up to the company’s shareholders.
Amid the controversy, STC said it did not intend to increase the price, and would proceed with the offer in line with Kuwaiti regulations.
The transaction is still subject to approval from the relevant authorities and STC is yet to comment on the outstanding 48.2 per cent stake it did not manage to nab.
Other major shareholders in Viva are Public Institute for Social Security (9.73 per cent) and Kuwaiti Investment Authority (6 per cent).
Viva and Ooredoo are roughly level pegging in the Kuwait mobile market, behind market leader Zain.