Qatar-based telecoms group Ooredoo has mandated DBS Bank, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, QInvest and QNB Capital to act as joint lead managers and bookrunners for a proposed Sukuk offering – which would be the company’s first Islamic bond. The US dollar-denominated sharia-compliant bond sale – of undisclosed target value – is expected to be launched following investor roadshows commencing 22 November 2013 covering Asia, Middle East and Europe, subject to market conditions. The target value was not disclosed, but Ooredoo’s press release called it a ‘benchmark’ offering, which usually refers to debt issues in the region of at least half a billion US dollars. In November 2012 Ooredoo agreed its first Islamic financing facility, a USD500 million loan set up as an 18-month revolving Murabaha facility, lead arranged by Qatar Islamic Bank.
Elsewhere this week, Ooredoo’s chairman Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Saud Al Thani gave a keynote speech at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecom World conference in Bangkok, in which he challenged operators to lower mobile broadband costs and improve accessibility. Sheikh Abdullah declared: ‘Our industry has two major challenges in the upcoming period. We need to make sure that the benefits of mobile broadband technology are available to as many people as possible. We need to work together with government, operators and device manufacturers to boost affordability, improve network access and improve the customer experience.’ As part of its own efforts to sign up 4G mobile broadband customers in its domestic market, Ooredoo Qatar has introduced new ‘Smart Packs’ for 4G enabled handsets, featuring automatic access to 4G services with bundled data and local call minutes, in four variant packages – two each for post-paid (‘Shahry’) and pre-paid (‘Hala’) subscribers.