Trowers scoops Etihad IPO after financing breaks Islamic records

Trowers & Hamlins is advising new client Etihad Etisalat on its Saudi Arabian initial public offering (IPO), just weeks after completing the world’s largest Islamic financing to date on behalf of the telecoms consortium.

The firm first advised Etihad Etisalat, comprised of United Arab Emirates-based Etisalat Telecommunications Company and six Saudi companies, earlier this year on its successful bid for Saudi Arabia’s first 3G licence.

Etihad’s listing on the Tadawul, Saudi’s stock exchange, was 50 times oversubscribed and attracted one shareholder for every 4.6 people in Saudi Arabia – the highest participation per capita of any IPO in history.

Leroy Levy, an Abu Dhabi-based Trowers senior assistant who advised Etihad on the IPO and its licence to operate in Saudi, said Trowers was first approached by Etihad because “Trowers has the largest presence in Saudi out of all Western law firms”.

Trowers banking partner Adrian Creed advised from London.
Trowers also advised Etihad on the Islamic financing of its $1.6bn (£870m) initial bridge payment to cover the cost of its 3G licence, which cost $3.5bn (£1.89bn). Clifford Chance lawyers in Riyadh and Dubai advised the lenders, led by Samba (formerly known as Saudi American bank) and National Commercial Bank.

Levy and Creed are also advising a Malaysian-Saudi consortium, including major Malaysian energy provider Tenaga and Saudi water company ACWA Power, in its bid to establish and operate Saudi’s first independent $2bn (£1.08bn) water and power project, Shoiba.

Clifford Chance is acting for the Saudi government while Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy London-based project finance partner Phillip Fletcher is advising the lenders.

Fletcher’s role is particularly important at the bidding stage as the government has required detailed financing documents to be included as part of the tender.

“Each bidding consortium has for the first time [in Saudi Arabia] had to pre-select lenders’ counsel and get them heavily involved in the bid submission process,” said Creed.