Largest Saudi investment in Bulgaria to be launched in a few weeks

The largest Saudi investment in Bulgaria will be launched in a few weeks. This transpired during a meeting between Bulgaria's caretaker Minister of Economy and Industry Nikola Stoyanov and Saudi Arabia's ICT infrastructure provider Tawal CEO Mohammed Alhakbani. The meeting was also attended by other members of Tawal's management. The Saudi company is in the process of purchasing 100% of the passive infrastructure of the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC) mobile networks, currently run by United Group.

Stoyanov said: "We have had exceedingly intensive government-level contacts between Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia over the last few months, and now we see the first results in investments." He recalled travelling to Riyadh himself twice in recent months, and welcoming the Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal bin Fadhil Alibrahim in Bulgaria. Stoyanov said it was a matter of time for these good results to be reflected in the economy. "I am glad we see the first concrete results," he added.

Alhakbani presented the plans of his company. In addition to buying Bulgarian telecom infrastructure, Tawal will also acquire property in Slovenia and Croatia. "We plan gradual expansion in Europe, and we want to build a regional hub here in Sofia," the guest explained. He hopes that his company will be among the factors which will encourage more Bulgarians to return to their home country.

Stoyanov said the government is trying to attract investments of high added value. "Information and communication technology is one of the fastest developing sectors of the Bulgarian economy, and connectivity is key to its future growth," he said, expressing his satisfaction that a company with an ambition to develop ICT infrastructure is expanding into Bulgaria.

The deal for buying infrastructure in Bulgaria, Slovenia and Croatia totals EUR 1.2 billion. Details are yet to be provided about the Bulgarian part of the deal, but it is clear even now that it will be the largest single Sudi investment in the Bulgarian economy.

Tawal is a subsidiary of Saudi telecom STC. Its main line of business is design, building and operation of consolidated telecom infrastructure facilities allowing up-to-date modular connectivity. On April 20, Tawal and United Group signed a contract for the acquisition of BTC's passive infrastructure by the Saudi company. Along with that, United Group is selling the passive infrastructure of its mobile networks in Croatia and Slovenia to Tawal. According to early estimates, 60% of the assets to be acquired by Tawal in the three countries are in Bulgaria.