Virgin Mobile Middle East raises $30 million in pre-IPO financing: Reuters

Virgin Mobile Middle East and Africa (VMMEA), part-owned by British entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, has raised $30 million via Islamic bonds ahead of a proposed initial public offering.

The deal from Dubai-based VMMEA, a mobile virtual network operator with a presence in Saudi Arabia, Oman and South Africa, is a rare addition to a market that is comprised mostly of sukuk originated by sovereigns and financial firms.

The transaction also includes a novel convertible feature that allows investors to transfer the sukuk certificates into exchangeable instruments that would mature two years after an IPO.

Alternative investment firm Sancta Capital Group and Franklin Templeton Investments Middle East participated as anchor investors, with Arqaam Capital arranging the deal.

Other first-time issuers of sukuk are also planning to tap the market later this year: Oman’s Alizz Islamic Bank is setting up a 100 million rials ($260 million) retail sukuk program, while Abu Dhabi’s Manazel Real Estate has plans to raise as much as 2.6 billion dirham ($708 million) via sukuk.