STC weighs options to sell phone towers

Khaled bin Hussain Biyari
Updated 12 July 2016
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STC weighs options to sell phone towers

DUBAI: Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) has approached potential bidders for its phone towers as the Kingdom’s biggest telecommunications operator weighs options for the infrastructure assets, people familiar with the matter said.
The company has also spoken to competitors Etihad Etisalat Co. and Zain Saudi Arabia about merging the three firms’ towers into a single entity, said the people, who asked not to be named because the deliberations are private. Saudi Telecom has not made a final decision on which process it plans to pursue, and no agreements have been reached with any of the parties, the people said.
Spokesmen for Saudi Telecom, Etihad Etisalat and Zain Saudi didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Saudi Telecom shares rose 0.4 percent to SR64.50 in Tadawul trading at 1:13 p.m. Mobily rose 0.4 percent to SR27.70. Zain Saudi gained 3.3 percent to SR8.40.
Carriers are selling towers to reduce exposure to costly infrastructure. Saudi Telecom Chief Executive Officer Khaled bin Hussain Biyari said in a May interview that he was “seriously considering” selling the assets to make the company more efficient. Etihad Etisalat, known as Mobily, abandoned its own tower sale as a result of its larger rival’s plans, people familiar with the matter said last month.
Zain Saudi is also weighing options for its approximately 7,500 towers in the Kingdom, including selling them or working with competitors to create one company to manage the assets, Chief Executive Officer Hassan Kabbani said earlier in the year.
Saudi Telecom owns more than 10,000 towers in the country, one person said.
The Maaal news website reported the talks to combine the three companies’ mobile assets in February.


China’s Xi promotes building initiative amid debt worries

Updated 26 April 2019
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China’s Xi promotes building initiative amid debt worries

  • Xi says Beijing wants “open, green and clean cooperation” with “zero tolerance for corruption”
  • High costs have prompted complaints some are falling into a “debt trap”
BEIJING: President Xi Jinping has promised to set high standards for China’s Belt and Road infrastructure-building initiative, seeking to dispel complaints the many billion dollars in projects leave developing countries with too much debt.
Xi avoided mentioning debt complaints in a speech opening a forum attended by leaders from some three dozen countries to celebrate his signature foreign initiative. But he said Beijing wants “open, green and clean cooperation” with “zero tolerance for corruption.”
Developing countries welcome the initiative to expand trade by building roads, ports and other facilities across Asia and Africa to Europe. But high costs have prompted complaints some are falling into a “debt trap.”
The United States, Russia, Japan and India also worry Beijing is trying to build a trade and political network centered on China and expand its strategic influence at their expense.
Xi’s government is trying to revive the initiative’s momentum after the number of new projects plunged last year. That came after Chinese officials said state-owned banks would step up scrutiny of borrowers and some governments complained projects do too little for their economies and might give Beijing too much political sway.
Countries including Malaysia and Thailand have canceled or scaled back projects while Ethiopia and others have renegotiated debt repayment.
Xi noted China’s finance ministry on Thursday issued guidelines for assessing debt risks for borrowers. The ministry said those “debt sustainability guidelines” are based on the standards of the International Monetary Fund and other international institutions.
The president tried to allay complaints about lack of economic benefits and political influence, saying Belt and Road is “not an exclusive club” and promotes “common development and prosperity.”
“We need to pursue open, green and clean cooperation,” Xi said. “Everything should be done in a transparent way and we should have zero tolerance for corruption.”
His audience at a Beijing conference center included Prime Ministers Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, Lee Hsien-Loong of Singapore and Adiy Ahmed of Ethiopia and leaders or envoys from Greece, Serbia and Malaysia.
Xi said Beijing also wants to expand the scope of its initiative by encouraging cooperation among Belt and Road countries on health, water resources, agriculture and science and technology. He promised to fund scholarships for students from Belt and Road countries.