(Bloomberg) -- The Middle East’s biggest broadcaster MBC Group hired HSBC Holdings Plc and JPMorgan Chase & Co. for what could be one of the year’s highest profile initial public offerings in Saudi Arabia.
After receiving approval from the local market regulator, MBC will sell a 10% stake, or 33.25 million shares, in a capital raise in the IPO, according to terms of the deal obtained by Bloomberg News.
MBC was the first privately-owned pan-Arab satellite TV group before the Saudi government took a 60% stake. Founder and chairman Waleed Al Ibrahim — one of the kingdom’s richest businessmen — has the remaining shares.
“Why an IPO — because we are on the cusp of huge growth, and are taking advantage of media habits changing,” Chief Executive Officer Sam Barnett said on a call with reporters on Tuesday.
The firm’s revenue was 3.49 billion riyals ($930 million) last year and it has over 150 million viewers a week, according to a statement. Proceeds will be used to curb debt and invest, including in new content for video-streaming service Shahid, according to Barnett.
MBC is set to be the first sizable listing on the Saudi market since a $678 million IPO by cargo firm SAL earlier in November.
SNB Capital is also advising on the offering, while GIB Capital is a financial adviser to the major shareholders, the company said in a statement.
MBC, which has more than 20 TV and radio channels, will take institutional investor orders from Nov. 30 until Dec. 6, with pricing slated for Dec. 12, the terms showed. Retail buyers will be able to bid for the IPO from Dec. 14-18. The trading date is still to be determined but is likely to be in 2024.
Al Ibrahim was among dozens of billionaires locked up in Riyadh’s Ritz Carlton in 2017 as part of what the government called an anti-corruption campaign, but seen by others as a shake-down of some of the country’s wealthiest businesses and potential rivals.
After the emptying of the Ritz, the government took control of 60% of MBC — including shares belonging to the family of entrepreneur Saleh Kamel — while Al Ibrahim retained his 40% share.
None of the investors that MBC has spoken to so far as part of the IPO preparation have asked about the chairman’s detention in the Ritz, Barnett said. Al Ibrahim is “actively engaged and not selling” any of his stake in the company, Barnett added.
MBC was founded in London in 1991. It moved its headquarters to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in 2002, and then to Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia’s IPO market picked up at the start of the summer and share sales have held up well despite market volatility after the outbreak of the war between Israel and Hamas last month. About $3.2 billion has been raised through Saudi listings this year, a 46% decrease year-on-year, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Read More: Middle East Sees Year-End IPO Rush, Despite War and Global Gloom
(Corrects 5th paragraph to say revenue for the year was 3.49 billion riyals)
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