STC plans acquisitions in MENA region

The telco shows confidence in securing funding for any deals.
Hasbani says that STC's future investments will continue to focus predominantly on the MENA region.
Hasbani says that STC's future investments will continue to focus predominantly on the MENA region.

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Saudi Arabian telco STC is targeting acquisitions and licences in the Middle East and Africa region, and is confident of securing funding for any deals, said Ghassan Hasbani, head of international operations at STC, in a Reuters report.

STC, which owns 35% of Turkish group Oger Telecom, licences in Bahrain and Kuwait, and a controlling stake in Indonesian firm Axis, wants to expand, the report said.

Hasbani was quoted saying: "Our future investments will continue to focus on the Middle East and North Africa predominantly and then Asia ... we thought there were not any opportunities in the Middle East a year ago, but looking at the region today the picture is changing." He said that there is a lot of hidden potential that will emerge in the next 18 to 24 months.

STC and Qatari operator Qtel were the two final bidders for Syria's third mobile licence, but the auction remains on hold as the government mounts a crackdown against protesters. Hasbani said that STC is waiting for new signals on the Syrian market. “….nothing has changed," he added.

Iraq is another country aiming to auction a fourth licence by this year end. "When that process is underway we would look at it seriously," said Hasbani.

Earlier in June this year, Riyadh Capital Group, an independent investment banking arm of Riyad Bank, stated that STC was to embark on a major acquisition drive in the Middle East in the short term.

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