Etisalat casts eye to Indian market

3 Apr 2008

UAE incumbent telco Etisalat is said to be in talks with Telekom Malaysia™-backed Spice Communications and others regarding a possible foray into India’s rapidly-growing mobile sector. Etisalat, which is 60%-owned by the UAE government, is the largest telecoms provider in its domestic market, and has operations in 14 countries in Africa, and Asia including Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Etisalat’s chairman, Mohammad Omran said in a statement, ‘India is a very attractive market for Etisalat and we are studying different market entry strategies to determine the most appropriate fit. We have also entered into direct meetings with various entities, amongst them Spice Communications.’ After an IPO, Spice Communications was listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) in July 2007. Following the share sale, Delhi-based BK Modi Group and its affiliates now own 41% of Spice, while Telekom Malaysia’s stake was reduced to 39%; the remainder is distributed. It is believed unlikely that BK Modi would wish to dilute its stake. One unnamed source, quoted by The Hindu Business Line, said, ‘Etisalat may be talking to Telekom Malaysia for a possible dilution of its stake. The two companies have been working together in other markets such as Indonesia. If TM decides to sell its share to Etisalat then [BK Modi] will have the first right of refusal.’

India, United Arab Emirates, Etisalat UAE, Spice Communications, Telekom Malaysia