Saudi Telecom Company (STC), the country’s leading telco in terms of subscribers, has announced the acquisition of niche push-to-talk (PTT) mobile operator Public Telecom Company (Bravo). According to a press release posted on the Saudi Arabian bourse (Tadawul), on 31 October 2013 STC signed the agreement with Bravo’s parent company Wataniya Telecom (part of the Qatar-based Ooredoo Group), which owns the cellco through two holding companies: Wataniya International of Dubai (55.61%) and Al Wataniya Gulf Telecommunication Holding of Bahrain (44.39%). As part of the final settlement of Bravo’s obligations towards STC, Wataniya will pay SAR244 million (USD65.06 million) to the Saudi telco before transferring all of Bravo’s assets; the deal, however, will involve no financial obligations on STC’s part. The transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Bravo was established in October 2001 and is the sole licensed provider of instant, group wireless communication services (PTT) and solutions for the public and enterprise sectors in the country, using Integrated Digital Enhanced Network (iDEN) technology in the SMR-800 frequency band. Bravo operates under a 15-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) licence owned by STC. The company had 176,000 users at end-September 2013. Parent group Ooredoo has said that the iDEN-based PTT service adds ‘little value’ to its group operations, but is a good fit with STC’s business/public sector user base; the Qatari group says it remains interested in the wider Saudi Arabian telecoms market in the long term.