According to Reuters, Saudi Telecom Company (STC) is targeting majority stakes in new acquisitions across the Middle East and South East Asia. The move comes amid increased domestic pressure from market rivals Mobily and Zain. Ghassan Hasbani, chief executive of STC’s international operations, commented: ‘Our strategy now is to look at majority stakes in everything we do – any transactions or acquisitions would aim to bring majority control to STC. The focus is on growth markets in South East Asia and the Middle East. The Middle East takes even more emphasis now, given the opportunities that are re-emerging. We also see potential for consolidation in the markets, some companies are looking for exits, others are looking for the right opportunity to partner. We are not in discussions with anyone with regards to a specific opportunity, but the possibilities are emerging, with private equity groups in many cases looking to exit the industry’.
Further, with reference to its ongoing bid for Syria’s third mobile licence – STC and Qtel are the two remaining bidders for concession, which has been delayed due to political turmoil – Hasbani admitted: ‘We are still where we started. As far as we are concerned there is no change at all in the process.’