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Saudi Telecom prepare for public flotation of its shares
Riyadh, 13th August 2001

  The Saudi Telecom Company (STC) will publish its financial reports for 1999 and 2000 within the next four months, in advance of the public flotation of its shares.

The government has already given the STC the go-ahead for the public flotation and Saudi law states that a share holding company must publish its budgets for two years before floating its shares through the stock exchange.

The telecom giant increased its revenues last year by 12.6 percent to SR16.5 billion, against SR14.6 billion the previous year. The company received payment of SR15.2 billion, or 92 percent, of the bills it issued last year.

The total amount of unpaid STC bills since the company’s formation in 1988 until the end of 2000 stood at SR3.3 billion. The bills cover all STC services except mobile phones.

The company’s expenditure on restructuring programs amounted to SR465 million over the past two years. The program aims at improving STC’s administration and the efficiency of its various departments.

STC last week awarded a SR2.545 billion ($678.66 million) contract to Ericsson of Sweden and Nokia of Finland to expand the Kingdom’s mobile phone system by adding 2.8 million lines to the network within two years.

As per the contract, the cost of a single mobile line will be SR909 ($242) instead of SR1,028 ($274) in the last expansion project.

However, Saleh Al-Jasser, director general of marketing, told Arab News that the cost would exceed SR909 as the costs of linking new mobile lines with the ground network would be added to it.

The contract also calls for the expansion of the network in Jeddah by replacing 470,000 existing lines and adding 657,000 new mobile lines. The third component of the project includes the replacement of 12 exchanges in the Western Region and the establishment of four new ones.

This part will be handled Kingdom wide by Ericsson, which will also execute a major portion of the STC radio network.

The contract also provides for installing a new signaling system to be connected to the fixed line network to streamline the paging system. 

Other services, such as General Packet Radio System (GPRS), prepaid, Wireless Applications Protocol (WAP), Intelligent Network and so on will be incorporated. The GPRS will facilitate Internet services through the GSM.

Nokia will implement the project in the Western Region, where it will replace 866,000 existing GSM lines and install 688,000 new ones. It will also train 55 Saudi nationals.

According to Al-Jasser, the expansion program will cover all the Kingdom’s cities. Currently, a total of 100 cities involving over 90 percent of the population have been linked within the GSM network.

Saud Al-Duwaish, acting president of STC, said the present contract will focus on extending the GSM network to 12 main roads in the cities, thereby bringing 95 percent of the Kingdom’s roads within the expansion program.

Moreover, the coverage will extend to the interior of the Kingdom, including villages. Data transmission will be much faster than at present and also free from any disturbance.

Source: Arab News©

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13 August 2001 05:40:57 PM

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