The United Arab Emirates’ largest telecoms group, Etisalat, is rumoured to be in talks regarding the sale of its Sri Lankan subsidiary, Etisalat Lanka. Reports suggest a number of international operators have shown interest, with India’s Bharti Airtel being the main name mentioned. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database says that Sri Lanka had over 22 million wireless subscribers and five mobile network providers (Dialog Axiata, Mobitel, Etisalat, Bharti Airtel Lanka and Hutchinson) at end-June 2014, with Etisalat in third position with 20.3% subscriber share, ahead of fourth-placed Airtel’s 7.8%. According to Lanka Business Today, an Etisalat source said: ‘Consolidation needs to happen in Sri Lanka since the market cannot sustain all five operators … Etisalat has already had interest from other operators in Sri Lanka to merge [businesses] or to acquire Etisalat’s business in Sri Lanka.’
Etisalat relaunched Sri Lankan mobile operations under its own brand in 2010 following its acquisition of Tigo Lanka the previous year, and has since pushed up its market share from around 16% to above 20%.