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Saudi's Almarai sees $36 mln writedown on Zain Saudi stake - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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DUBAI, (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s Almarai , a founding shareholder in Zain Saudi , will likely take a $36 million impairment on its stake in the telecoms carrier at the end of 2011 if the shares remain stuck near current levels, the company’s chief financial officer said on Wednesday.

Diary firm Almarai was one of nine founding shareholders in Zain Saudi and owns a 2.5 percent stake initially valued at 350 million riyals ($93 million). The operator launched services in 2008, competing against rivals Saudi Telecom Co and Etihad Etisalat (Mobily).

“If the share price of Zain Saudi will stay at the level it’s at currently or lower by year-end, we will then propose an impairment of the assets,” Paul-Louis Gay, Almarai chief financial officer.

Based on Zain Saudi’s share price on Sept. 30, Gay said the impairment would likely be 136 million riyals ($36.3 million), but since then the shares have fallen further, from 6.25 to 5.7 riyals, a seven-month low.

With the firm’s proposed capital restructuring, analysts see little scope for a rebound. The restructuring was announced in August 2010 but was delayed following ultimately unsuccessful bids for stakes in Zain Saudi and its Kuwaiti parent Zain .

Zain Saudi wants to cut its capital by 55 percent to 6.27 billion riyals and then issue 4.4 billion riyals of new shares.

The operator has yet to make a quarterly profit and has about 9.2 billion riyals in accumulated losses, or 66 percent of its paid-up capital. Bourse rules say listed firms must cut their capital if losses exceed 75 percent to cancel some of these losses.

Almarai has also lent 109.6 million riyals to Zain Saudi, according to the latter’s first-quarter results.

Almarai’s shares were down 0.3 percent at 0942 GMT

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Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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