stc Group, an engine of digital transformation, providing innovative products and services in Saudi Arabia and the MENA region, has announced that its subsidiary TAWAL has officially began operations in Europe on Sunday.
The announcement follows the completion of TAWAL’s acquisition of United Group’s telecom tower assets in Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovenia for $1.32 billion on 25 April 2023 as part of stc group’s strategy to expand and grow, and after obtaining all the necessary approvals from the related regulatory organisations.
The deal will provide an integrated set of telecom infrastructure services, starting from telecom towers, small cells on rooftops and coverage solutions inside buildings.
This comes as part of the main services agreements, under which these sites will be leased for 20 years for United Group to provide telecom services. TAWAL will deploy over 2,000 additional towers, while co-location relationships with other mobile network operators will be maintained and expanded, enabling stc Group to drive digital transformation through providing world-class connectivity.
“We have obtained all necessary approvals and the acquisition was completed on August 24,” the telecom services provider said in a statement to Saudi Exchange Tadawul on Sunday adding that the financial impact was expected in Q3 of 2023.
Following the acquisition, TAWAL’s towers portfolio reached more than 21,000 across five countries including over 4,800 sites across Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovenia, and it represents a unique addition to stc’s complete digital ecosystem.
TAWAL financed the deal through Shariah-compliant bank loan, totalling $1.42 billion. Saudi National Bank (SNB) provided a loan of $1.02 billion ($300 million out of the total amount is a bridge loan), followed by Dubai Islamic Bank ($250 million), and First Abu Dhabi Bank ($150 million) respectively.
TAWAL is now providing operation services to its new clients in these three countries in Europe. This acquisition represents the second step of TAWAL’s expansion plan following the launch of TAWAL Pakistan in 2022. The total towers portfolio of TAWAL is now exceeding 21,000 towers across five countries.
Tapping into the European market’s growth potential — particularly with regards to the roll-out of 5G and adaptation of mobile services — TAWAL aims to ensure reliable, effective, and efficient ICT infrastructure network to all Mobile Networks Operators (MNOs) in these markets.
TAWAL aims to bring significant investments, best processes, and practices, as well as innovative products to its portfolio. The company will leverage its expertise in managing critical and robust infrastructure across Saudi Arabia to bolster the European markets by accelerating the deployment of ICT infrastructure in those markets.
Speaking on the occasion, Mohammed Alhakbani, CEO, TAWAL, said that they were delighted to launch the company’s operations in Europe and this achievement constituted an important turning point for TAWAL to expand its footprints to other important markets.
“Leveraging our resources and best practices, we aim to bring even more value to the European markets by enabling our customers to operate more effectively and efficiently,” Alhakbani added.
stc Group offers a variety of best-in-class digital solutions and services, including online payments, telecommunications, IOT, AI, 5G, cloud computing, e-gaming and cybersecurity, Fintech, and other advanced digital solutions.