Mobily buys $21mn stake in internet provider

Saudi Arabia's second-largest telecom operator takes 94% stake in Zajil.

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By  Andrew Hammond Published  November 3, 2008

Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) Saudi Arabia's second-largest telecom operator, said on Monday it had bought 94 percent of local internet and data communication provider Zajil for 80 million riyals ($21.3 million).

Mobily said in July it had won the approval of Saudi Arabia's telecom's watchdog for the transaction involving 96 percent of Zajil's capital.

This is Mobily's second acquisition in the past year after it agreed to buy local data provider Bayanat al-Oula for $400 million.

"With this acquisition Mobily will be able to provide high standard telecom solutions," Mobily said in a statement on the bourse website said, adding that it would give full support to Zajil and Bayanat operations.

The acquisition was completed on Sunday, it said.

Mobily has been seeking to make an aggressive entry into the data and internet segment since it lost a bid to win a fixed-line telecom licence about a year ago.

In 2007, it launched wireless broadband services to compete with state-controlled Saudi Telecom Co, which holds both fixed and mobile telephone licences.

Saudi Arabia's internet and data market is expected to witness more competition with the arrival of three new fixed-line operators this year.

The three operators are led by Bahrain Telecommunications Co (Batelco), Hong Kong's PCCW and US Verizon Communications. (Reuters)

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