Saudi Telecom to take ownership of Wataniya's Saudi unit

Thu Oct 31, 2013 3:20am EDT

* STC to receive $65 mln from Wataniya to settle dues

* Bravo is a push-to-talk operator with 180,000 subscribers in Saudi

By Matt Smith

DUBAI, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Saudi Telecom Co (STC) has agreed to take full ownership of push-to-talk communications firm Bravo in a deal that will see Bravo's current owner Wataniya also pay STC $65 million to settle outstanding dues.

Push-to-talk is a two-way, radio-style channel for simultaneous voice communication between multiple users, according to Bravo's website, and is common in some industries such as oil and gas and construction.

Bravo, wholly owned by Kuwait's Wataniya, a unit of Qatar's Ooredoo, generated revenue of $46.9 million in the first nine months of 2013, near-flat from a year-earlier.

Bravo launched services in Saudi in 2005 through a 15-year agreement with STC and had 180,000 customers as of Sept. 30.

This link-up led STC to make "substantial investment for maintaining the quality of service", STC said in a statement to Saudi's bourse.

To settle these dues, STC will now assume full ownership and also receive 244 million riyals ($65.06 million) from Wataniya, pending regulatory approval, the statement said.

Bravo "serves a very important and broad range of customers, both government agencies and private businesses," Abdulaziz al-Sugair, STC chairman and managing director, said in the statement.

STC's takeover of Bravo will bolster the former monopoly's customer base by expanding its coverage in "current and potential target segments such as in construction, real estate, oil and gas and utilities", Sugair added. ($1 = 3.7504 Saudi riyals) (Reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by Dinesh Nair)

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