Saudi Arabia’s second largest cellco in terms of subscribers Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) is in negotiation to obtain a stake in Saudi fixed line and broadband operator Etihad Atheeb Telecom (GO Telecom), according to a statement published on the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) website. The two companies have entered into preliminary non-binding talks for the acquisition of a share of the loss-making GO by one of Mobily’s subsidiaries, with 30 June 2013 set as a deadline for announcement of any ‘relevant developments’. However, none of the companies have published information on the size of the stake, or the potential sellers, as GO is currently owned by Atheeb Trading Company (which holds a 25% stake), Batelco of Bahrain (15%) and Al-Nahla Trading Company (13.7%), with the rest of the shares publicly owned.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Mobily and GO signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to extend their cooperation in the area of integration of services in December 2012, with Mobily providing access to its infrastructure to offer voice and data services via the Saudi National Fibre Network (SNFN) across the Kingdom, in exchange for access to GO’s voice services and fixed lines. According to Kuwait Times, in January 2013 Mobily CEO Khalid al-Kaf confirmed the pursuit of a formal partnership, with plans for Mobily to become a re-seller for GO’s estimated two million fixed lines. GO says on its website that it has ‘more than 200 thousand customers’ and offers ‘voice services and broadband internet services in 12 cities in Saudi Arabia.’