Saudi firm set to enter Pak telecom sector

ISLAMABAD: In an encouraging development, Saudi Telecom Company (STC) – a leading integrated ICT infrastructure company in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East region – is poised to make inroads into the Pakistani economy by acquiring 100% of the shares of the Pakistani company AWAL telecommunications company. In AWAL Telecom, a Romanian company is the majority shareholder.

“Yes, TAWAL, which is the subsidiary of STC, has agreed to acquire 100% of the shares of the Pakistani company AWAL Telecom and the completion of the acquisition process is subject to regulatory approvals”, confirmed Shehryar Khan, head of the commercial department of AWAL Telecom.

TAWAL has a portfolio of 15,500 telecommunications towers across the Kingdom. TAWAL’s core business is to design, build and manage telecommunications infrastructure facilities that enable state-of-the-art modular connectivity for mobile network operators and other government organizations. Through this agreement, AWAL Telecom will be integrated into the TAWAL organization and will continue to work on infrastructure expansion for the benefit of mobile network operators in Pakistan.

He said that AWAL Telecom has its tower networks in FATA including North and South Waziristan, Orakzai Agency, KPK, Islamabad and Rawalpindi and provides full service fleet to four carriers in Pakistan— Jazz, Telenor, Ufone and Zong. He further explained that Awal Telecom provides the operators with the services of towers, electricity and operation and maintenance (O&M).

Khan said TAWAL, the largest passive infrastructure company in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has already signed an agreement to fully acquire AWAL Telecom. When asked how big the sale deal was and how much TAWAL would invest in a Pakistan-based company, he refused to divulge any information, saying that once the deal is officially done with regulatory approvals, all this information would be disclosed.

AWAL Telecom (Pvt) Ltd is a passive telecommunications tower supply company founded in 2014 in Islamabad, Pakistan under license from Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA). Mr. Olayan Alwetaid, CEO of Saudi Telecom Group, said in his statement that TAWAL looks forward to building successful partnerships with the country’s mobile network operators and meeting the demand for robust telecommunications infrastructure. And once the acquisition process is complete, TAWAL will make significant capital investments, expand its operations and strengthen its expertise in the Pakistani market.

Mohammed Alhakbani, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of TAWAL, said that Pakistan is an exciting market with great potential for growth. “Pakistan has four major mobile network operators serving 238 million people. The country currently has over 189 million cellular subscribers and over 108 million 3G/4G subscribers with mobile voice and mobile broadband subscriptions seeing double-digit growth in recent years.

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