Saudi Arabian privatization plans accelerate with international tender to build 60 schools

As many as 60 schools are to be built in Saudi Arabia. (REUTERS)
Updated 17 January 2018

Saudi Arabian privatization plans accelerate with international tender to build 60 schools

DUBAI: The Saudi Arabian privatization program, a crucial part of the Vision 2030 strategy, is gathering pace with the launch of a tender to the private sector to build 60 new schools for children in the Jeddah and Makkah areas.
In a further sign of progress toward the sell-off of government controlled parts of the economy, it was also announced that the flour milling companies owned by the Saudi Grain Organization (SAGO) could be ready for sale in the first half of this year.
The schools announcement was made by Tatweer Buildings Company (TBC), a government owned company involved in all aspects of educational infrastructure. No value is put upon the contract in the tender documents.
HSBC, the global bank involved in many aspects of the Saudi privatization plan, is financial adviser to TBC. A bank spokesman said the tender was open to Saudi and international bidders.
Education was one of the areas earmarked for involvement by the private sector in a sell-off of state-owned assets that could be valued at as much as $200 billion over the next decade, according to official statements from the Ministry of Economy and Planning last year.
Privatization is regarded as a key component of the Vision 2030 strategy to reduce the Kingdom’s dependence on oil revenue and the public sector.
Tatweer is seeking “a developer or developers forming a consortium to design, build, finance, maintain and transfer public school buildings on various sites in Jeddah and Makkah leased to TBC by the Ministry of Education. The sites will also include, where appropriate, a multipurpose hall and can accommodate children with disabilities, catering facilities and specialist teaching areas in line with the Kingdom’s pedagogic objectives and strategy.
“The ministry will be responsible for providing the education services and information, communication and technology equipment and services. It is also anticipated that the developer or developers forming a consortium would look to develop a third party revenue generation model for any facilities such as the sports facilities when not in use by the ministry,” it added.
Wave 1 of the project will include kindergarten, elementary, intermediate and secondary schools, for boys and girls, TBC said.
An open investor conference will be held in Riyadh next month to gauge interest in the tender from developers, investors, financial institutions and professionals. TBC is also being advised by the UK-based law firm Allen & Overy as international legal counsel.
HSBC also announced that it had made progress on preparing SAGO for sale, in terms of the company’s business model, regulatory set-up and financial accounts for the 2017 financial year.
Details of the sales process will be announced during the second quarter of this year, HSBC said. The bank added: “The milling companies represent a unique investment opportunity in the flour milling sector in Saudi Arabia, the largest economy in the Middle East. The milling companies also present opportunities for expansion into value added product within the Saudi market.”


Sweden bans Huawei, ZTE from upcoming 5G networks

Updated 20 October 2020

Sweden bans Huawei, ZTE from upcoming 5G networks

  • European governments have been reviewing the role of Chinese companies in building their networks
  • Sweden’s security service called China ‘one of the biggest threats against Sweden’

STOCKHOLM: Swedish regulators on Tuesday banned the use of telecom equipment from China’s Huawei and ZTE in its 5G network ahead of the spectrum auction scheduled for next month.
The Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) said auctions the setting of the license conditions followed assessments by the Swedish Armed Forces and security service.
European governments have been reviewing the role of Chinese companies in building their networks following pressure from the United States, which says they pose a security threat because, among other concerns, Chinese companies and citizens must by law aid the state in intelligence gathering.
Sweden’s security service called China “one of the biggest threats against Sweden.”
The United Kingdom in July ordered Huawei equipment to be purged completely from Britain’s 5G network by 2027, becoming one of the first European countries to do so.
Huawei and ZTE did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the decision by Sweden, home to Ericsson, one of Europe’s leading telecoms equipment suppliers.
“The ban leaves network operators with less options and risks slowing the rollout of 5G in markets where competition is reduced,” said Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight.
The ban is likely to benefit rival telecom equipment makers Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia.
PTS said companies taking part in the auction must remove Huawei and ZTE gear from existing central functions by Jan. 1, 2025.
The regulator defined central functions as equipment used to build the radio access network, the transmission network, the core network and the service and maintenance of the network.
PTS said the license conditions were decided to address the assessments made by the armed forces and security service.
It has approved the participation of Hi3G Access, Net4Mobility, Telia Sverige and Teracom in the planned spectrum auction of 3.5 GHz and 2.3 GHz, key bands crucial for the rollout of 5G.
Tele2 and Telenor will participate together as Net4Mobility to secure spectrum for a joint nationwide 5G network.
Tele2, which uses Huawei equipment in its network, which had earlier called Huawei an important vendor, said the PTS decision “does not change our plans substantially.”
“We may have to phase different costs differently between years to meet security conditions on time,” a spokesman told Reuters.
The 5G spectrum auction was originally planned for early 2020, but last year PTS said it would delay the auction due to a security review. PTS announced in April this year that the auction would begin in November.