According to Reuters, Saudi Telecom Company (STC) plans to make a number of major acquisitions in the Middle East next year, expanding its regional presence by taking advantage of what it terms a ‘buyer’s market’. Speaking to the British news agency at the World Economic Forum, Ghassan Hasbani, chief executive of STC’s international division, confirmed: ‘I see 2012 as a year of potential acquisitions. We are now in acquisitions mode [more] than before. We are not doing due diligence, but we are analysing potential opportunities. Given market conditions and the global economic situation, it is a buyer’s market, no doubt. We are looking at opportunities that complement our current footprint and strengthen our investment portfolio, and we are looking to focus on the Middle East region in markets where there is a good opportunity and a reasonable outlook on stability … We see the group expanding into the area of broadband. This is where the growth is coming from: mobile and fixed broadband on all fronts. In general in the telecom market in Saudi Arabia, we are seeing double-digit demand on data and capacity and in terms of utilisation of internet. This is going to be the main area of growth in the future’.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in 2007 STC set itself the target of generating 10% of company revenues through international operations by the end of 2010. By the end of 2008 STC was claiming to have already exceeded its target, attributing 22% of annual sales to its foreign subsidiaries. Revenues for the year ended 31 December 2010 reached SAR51.8 billion, up from SAR50.8 billion a year earlier. 32% of revenues came from international units in 2010. The post-2007 shift towards foreign expansion follows tougher competition in STC’s domestic market from rivals Mobily and Zain.