STC weighs options to sell phone towers

Khaled bin Hussain Biyari
Updated 12 July 2016

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.


Huawei’s third-quarter revenue jumps 27% as smartphone sales surge

Updated 36 min 28 sec ago

Huawei’s third-quarter revenue jumps 27% as smartphone sales surge

  • American companies, significantly disrupting its ability to source key parts
  • Huawei was all but banned by the United States in May from doing business with American companies

SHENZHEN, SHANGHAI: Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd’s third-quarter revenue jumped 27%, driven by a surge in shipments of smartphones launched before a trade blacklisting by the United States expected to hammer its business.
Huawei, the world’s biggest maker of telecom network equipment and the No. 2 manufacturer of smartphones, was all but banned by the United States in May from doing business with American companies, significantly disrupting its ability to source key parts.
The company has been granted a reprieve until November, meaning it will lose access to some technology next month. Huawei has so far mainly sold smartphones that were launched before the ban.
Its newest Mate 30 smartphone — which lacks access to a licensed version of Google’s Android operating system — started sales last month.
Huawei in August said the curbs would hurt less than initially feared, but could still push its smartphone unit’s revenue lower by about $10 billion this year.
The tech giant did not break down third-quarter figures but said on Wednesday revenue for the first three quarters of the year grew 24.4% to 610.8 billion yuan.
Revenue in the quarter ended Sept. 30 rose to 165.29 billion yuan ($23.28 billion) according to Reuters calculations based on previous statements from Huawei.
“Huawei’s overseas shipments bounced back quickly in the third quarter although they are yet to return to pre-US ban levels,” said Nicole Peng, vice president for mobility at consultancy Canalys.
“The Q3 result is truly impressive given the tremendous pressure the company is facing. But it is worth noting that strong shipments were driven by devices launched pre-US ban, and the long-term outlook is still dim,” she added.
The company said it has shipped 185 million smartphones so far this year. Based on the company’s previous statements and estimates from market research firm Strategy Analytics, that indicates a 29% surge in third-quarter smartphone shipments.
Still, growth in the third quarter slowed from the 39% increase the company reported in the first quarter. Huawei did not break out figures for the second quarter either, but has said revenue rose 23.2% in the first half of the year.
“Our continued strong performance in Q3 shows our customers’ trust in Huawei, our technology and services, despite the actions and unfounded allegations against us by some national governments,” Huawei spokesman Joe Kelly told Reuters.
The US government alleges Huawei is a national security risk as its equipment could be used by Beijing to spy. Huawei has repeatedly denied its products pose a security threat.
The company, which is now trying to reduce its reliance on foreign technology, said last month that it has started making 5G base stations without US components.
It is also developing its own mobile operating system as the curbs cut its access to Google’s Android operating system, though analysts are skeptical that Huawei’s Harmony system is yet a viable alternative.
Still, promotions and patriotic purchases have driven Huawei’s smartphone sales in China — surging by a nearly a third compared to a record high in the June quarter — helping it more than offset a shipments slump in the global market.