x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

STC boosts stake in UAE firm Intigral

Saudi Telecom Company buys an additional stake in the media firm Intigral for 90 million riyals.

Saudi Telecom has spent 90 million riyals (Dh88.1m) boosting its stake in the media company Intigral, which operates the Saudi firm's television service.

The company, also known as STC, said it had increased its stake in Intigral, which is based in Dubai, to 71 per cent from 51 per cent.

It acquired the 20 per cent stake in Intigral held by the publishing company Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

Ghassan Hasbani, STC's chief executive of international operations, said the deal came about through "mutual agreement" with SRMG, which has now exited its holding in Intigral.

In a statement sent to The National, STC said the move was "in line with its strategy to focus on content services that are of primary importance to its customers". Intigral buys the rights to film and television content and encodes it for delivery over internet protocol television (IPTV) and via mobile devices. It also censors content according to its clients' instructions.

The company provides STC's InvisionTV service, which is similar to the broadband TV services provided by Etisalat and du in the UAE.

Intigral is "extremely relevant to our future business", Mr Hasbani said.

Intigral declined to comment when contacted by The National.

The Malaysian media company Astro remains a shareholder in Intigral after the exit of SRMG.

The market responded positively to the news. SRMG, which is traded on the Saudi stock exchange, closed up 8.89 per cent at 19.55 riyals. STC edged up 0.3 per cent to 33.40 riyals.

An Intigral executive told The Nationallast month that STC's IPTV service had 20,000 subscribers. The executive expected the number of subscribers to grow to between 70,000 and 90,000 next year.

In addition to its mobile TV and IPTV services in Saudi Arabia, Intigral also provides mobile TV service in Bahrain and Kuwait.

The company has said it is in discussions with "various operators" in the region to provide similar services.