STC's Tawal to buy European towers from Netherland's United Group in $1.3bn deal

After the acquisition, the Saudi telecoms company will own and operate more than 4,800 sites across Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia

In December 2018, STC established Tawal to provide leading integrated ICT infrastructure in the kingdom. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Saudi Telecom Company has signed an agreement to acquire the Netherland-based United Group’s telecommunications tower assets in a deal worth €1.22 billion ($1.34 billion) through its infrastructure unit Tawal.

The deal is Tawal’s first investment in Europe. Tawal owns a portfolio of more than 16,000 telecom towers across the kingdom.

The partnership will help STC — the kingdom's biggest mobile operator — to expand its global footprint in key markets with significant growth potential, the company said on Thursday.

After the acquisition is completed, Riyadh-based Tawal will own and operate more than 4,800 sites across Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia. It aims to offer a range of passive infrastructure services ranging from ground-sited towers and rooftop small cells to in-building-solutions.

“We are already leading the transformation of Saudi Arabia’s digital capabilities and this transaction reinforces our commitment to investing in best-in-class technology and infrastructure to lead the way in enabling the world to connect,” said Olayan Alwetaid, chief executive of STC Group.

As part of the 20-year master services agreement with United Group, Tawal will run more than 2,000 additional shareable sites. It will also maintain and expand co-location relationships with other mobile network operators in the region.

Active in eight countries, United Group has nearly 11 million users and about 14,500 employees.

Its transaction with Tawal is subject to regulatory approval from the relevant authorities in Bulgaria and Slovenia.

Upon completion, Tawal’s operations in the European market will be rebranded as Tawal Europe.

“The partnership supports our goal to continue to provide innovative and efficient ICT [information and communications technology] infrastructure solutions to our partners and deliver the quality of services we are renowned for,” said Tawal’s chief executive, Mohammed Alhakbani.

Launched in April 2019, Tawal enables telecoms companies, government and private entities to boost infrastructure sharing that eventually helps to achieve lower costs and greater operational efficiencies.

Updated: April 20, 2023, 3:08 PM