Saudi Telecom expands to North Africa

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Saudi Telecom has announced its plan to seek foreign expansion, particularly in north Africa as competition in domestic market heightens. According to company chief executive officer, Saud al-Duweish, they aim to cut 14 percent of their workforce at home and boost efforts to pursue a foreign expansion plan primarily in North Africa.

Mr al-Duweish told media last week that, "we are interested in Middle East and north Africa in general but we are looking at north Africa in particular." He reportedly said, "there is only Morocco" left for acquisitions after Algeria stalled privatisation of Algeria Telecom.

He noted that company was interested in purchasing a stake in Maroc Telecom owned by France's Vivendi. "We tested waters for Maroc Telecom, but we didn't get positive feedback. We hope Vivendi will change its mind. We will always be interested in Algeria, which is a country with huge potential," he was quoted as saying.

Saudi Telecom is among firms reportedly competing for a 25 percent stake in Oman Telecommunications Company. Saudi Telecom is said to be under intense pressure to improve profitability as a regional telecom war heats up, with rivals like Kuwait's Zain and Emirates Telecommunications competing within Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Telecom has reportedly spent in excess of US$ 6 billion on foreign expansion in past 15 months. "We are comfortable with financing of any transaction that may seem worth it. We have excellent ratings," company CEO said.

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