Saudi Telecommunications Company (STC) is embarking on an investment strategy worth more than $1bn to build on capabilities and expand to new markets this year.
The company plans to invest $280m in Bahrain, $450m made up of bank loans and customer deposits in its Indonesian operations, and $180m in Kuwait through a loan agreed with local banks in early May.
The money will be invested primarily in infrastructure including broadband, mobile and long-term evolution (LTE).
“We are investing in efficient or smart networks, which is a green solution and will reduce overall costs,” says Ghassan Hasbani, chief executive officer of STC International.
STC has faced stiff domestic competition from Etihad-Etisalat (Mobily) over the past few years and the company has turned to emerging markets to remain profitable. It has operations in Kuwait, Bahrain, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey and South Africa.
It is also one of two remaining bidders for Syria’s third mobile licence.
Currently 33 per cent of the company’s total revenue comes from its operations abroad. Hasbani says they are aiming for a 50:50 ration within the next three to four years.
The company is still keen to develop its home market. It has set aside about SR5bn ($1.3bn) to invest in Saudi Arabia alone.
“We are investing heavily in Saudi Arabia, we are aiming to have a blanket coverage of mobile broadband at 42 Megabits per second [Mbps]. We are also investing heavily in fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and the ICT, side as the government is keen to grow a digital economy,” says Saud al-Daweesh, chairman of STC.