Last October, Belgacom’s shareholders agreed to list the state-controlled former monopoly some time in 2004. Analysts expect the flotation to give Belgacom a market value of E11 billion, and the operator is expected to raise more than E4 billion. The sale should prove an attractive opportunity for investors seeking a strong dividend provider.
Belgacom is scheduled to be floated on the Euronext on March 22, 2004.
Belgian telecommunications operator Belgacom is due to start trading on the Brussels Euronext exchange on March 22, in what will be one of the biggest initial public offerings in Europe in recent years. A price range for the Belgacom shares will be published on March 8, and a final price will be announced on March 22. At least 15% of the shares will be offered to retail investors in Belgium.
The carrier will be selling the entire 46.9% owned by a consortium made up of SBC Communications, Singapore’s SingTel and Denmark’s TDC. The three telecoms operators have been shareholders in Belgacom since 1995, when they paid $2.46 billion to take a share of the privatized state monopoly.
Indeed, the sale will provide some welcome cash for SBC Communications, which earlier this week announced it was selling between 500,000 and 650,000 local telephone access lines to help its mobile phone joint venture, Cingular Wireless, pay the heavy $41 billion cash price for AT&T Wireless Services.
The Belgian government owns 50% plus one share of Belgacom, and intends to keep its controlling stake. Belgacom itself owns the remaining 3.1%, and it will buy back E1 million worth of shares at issue price before the IPO.
Belgacom never took part in the spending and acquisition spree like many of its European rivals, and avoided the high fees for third generation mobile phone licenses (Belgium held 3G auctions for the licenses after the boom period). Consequently, it gained a bit of a reputation as a slow moving operator. However, the company has one of strongest balance sheets of any European telco, with only E482 million of debt. It is likely to prove attractive to investors looking for a dividend provider. Last month, it revealed plans to pay E395 million in dividends for 2003.
This article is based on material originally published by ComputerWire