September 14, 2017 / 8:29 AM / a year ago

MIDEAST STOCKS-Dana Gas up on sukuk hopes, telcos drag on Saudi

DUBAI, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Shares in Abu Dhabi’s Dana Gas rose early on Thursday after its sukuk holders proposed a deal to end a dispute over payments on the debt, while Saudi telecommunications shares fell as officials moved towards allowing voice and video calls over the Internet.

Holders of about $700 million of Islamic bonds issued by Dana Gas submitted a proposal to restructure the sukuk to the company’s management, in an effort to end the legal battle over Dana’s refusal to redeem them, a committee for the holders said on Wednesday.

Dana called the proposal unacceptable, however, and it is not clear that it will change the stand-off over the bonds. A court hearing of the case in London is due to start next week.

Shares of Dana were up 1.2 percent, while Abu Dhabi’s main index dropped 0.2 percent.

Blue chips were mostly slightly up in Dubai, helping take the main index 0.3 percent higher, but DXB Entertainments, the most heavily traded stock, lost 0.6 percent.

Qatar’s index continued to slide from Wednesday’s 52-month closing low. It was down 0.5 percent after an hour of trade; Qatar Navigation was down 3.7 percent.

In Riyadh, most petrochemical shares were up as Brent crude traded a little over $55 a barrel; Saudi Basic Industries was up 0.4 percent.

The main index, however, was 0.2 percent lower as shares in the top three telecommunications providers fell. Saudi Telecom was down 1.9 percent.

The communications minister said on Wednesday that the government planned to unblock internet voice and video calls, although a regulatory process will be involved and it is not yet clear whether all apps will be permitted. This could hurt the companies’ revenues from traditional phone calls, especially by the 10 million foreign residents of Saudi Arabia calling their home countries. (Reporting by Celine Aswad; Editing by Andrew Torchia)

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