Etisalat targets entry into India and Egyptian fixed line licence

29 Apr 2008

Etisalat has told Reuters that it is considering a move into India’s telecoms market. ‘The market value for shares (in India) has gone down a little so it’s a good time for us to consider entry,’ said Mohammed Omran, chairman of Etisalat. ‘We could spend in the range of USD1 billion to USD3-4 billion; that depends on the opportunities and on how much of a percent we buy,’ he added. In April the company revealed that it was in talks with several Indian telecoms companies, including Spice Communications. ‘Our aim is to buy into an operator that covers most of India, and Spice is one possibility,’ Omran reiterated yesterday, although he stressed that no decision had yet been made.

Etisalat, which has operations in 16 countries and 51 million customers, has spent USD5 billion on acquisitions in the last four years alone. Assets acquired by the company since 2004 have doubled in value and are now worth USD10 billion. ‘Our target is that international operations contribute 20% to 30% of net profits in three to four years,’ he stated, adding the segment had contributed ‘very little’ in 2007.

Omran also revealed that Etisalat is preparing a bid for a second fixed line licence in Egypt and said the company expected its mobile operations there to become profitable by early 2010. ‘We think we will make the right bid. Because we are a mobile operator, we are in a better position than others to bid for a licence.’