FRiENDi expects to launch IPO within two years

6 Dec 2011

Dubai-based mobile services provider FRiENDi Group plans to launch an initial public offering (IPO) within two years, the company’s chief executive Mikkel Vinter told Reuters. Without revealing what stock exchanges the firm might list on, Vinter said: ‘We are planning to launch an IPO in 18 to 24 months … How the markets are performing is one of the considerations for us; at the moment it’s not the best time, but we’re optimistic about the medium- to long-term outlook for the region.’ FRiENDi currently provides mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) services in Oman and Jordan, and has also signed a partnership deal with Zain Saudi, under which it provides branding and advisory services to the mobile network operator. Without naming specific markets, Vinter revealed that the company is looking to acquire a further four to five MVNO licences in the Middle East and North Africa. One possible market is Saudi Arabia; last month the Kingdom’s technology minister was quoted by local media as saying that the government was planning to issue three MVNO licences in 2012. Speaking on the possibility of bidding for a Saudi licence, Vinter said: ‘We are keen to look at that … MVNO licences will probably be granted next year, but we are not aware of the final terms being determined.’ In Oman, FRiENDi has signed up around 300,000 subscribers through its two brands FRiENDi mobile (launched in April 2009) and Halafoni (July 2009). On a group level, the company expects to reach one million customers early next year.