Saudi Arabia’s incumbent telecom operator, STC, is “very serious” about Syria’s third mobile licence and is waiting for the Syrian government to set a new date for the auction.
“This process has been delayed by the government but we are waiting for the new date to be set by them. They just told us they will tell us the next date.” Saud Al Daweesh, CEO, STC Group, told CommsMEA.
“Syria is a country that has been identified in our strategy as important. We are very serious about it. We think Syria is an important market. It fits in our portfolio and also in between Turkey and the GCC countries.”
He added that Syria represents “one of the few remaining attractive green field opportunities” in the region.
“As one of the relatively large and under-penetrated markets for mobile services in MENA region with a healthy ARPU, the country provides immediate top line and mid-term bottom line performance improvement to STC,” Al Daweesh said.
“A presence in Syria would allow STC to further leverage its presence in the region and generate value from synergies with its operations in the GCC and Turkey.”
While Syria remains the focus of STC’s current geographic expansion plans, Al Daweesh added that the company remains interested growth opportunities, including acquisitions that fit with its strategy and existing portfolios.
“Internationally, STC will keep on scanning inorganic growth opportunities that would fit within our portfolio of companies,” he said.
The Syrian government postponed the auction for the country’s third mobile licence last month amid ongoing political instability. STC, and Qatar’s incumbent operator Qtel, are the only two companies due to participate in the auction, which was originally scheduled to take place on April 27.