Etisalat's first credit rating by end of June

Salem Ali Al Sharhan

Etisalat said yesterday it expects to get its first credit rating by the end of June in a bid to help its expansion overseas.

"In keeping with our future business plans and corporate strategy, we are in the process of being rated by three international agencies," Chief Financial Officer Salem Ali Al Sharhan told Reuters. The ratings would be ready towards the end of June, he said. Etisalat has said this year it is looking at expanding in Africa, Iran and India. Etisalat, the second largest mobile operator in the Gulf Arab region, is the latest Abu Dhabi corporate to seek a credit rating.

Mubadala Development, an investment agency for the government of the world's fifth largest oil exporter, said last week it was seeking its first rating in a bid to lower borrowing costs.

Standard and Poor's Rating Services assigned Aldar Properties, Abu Dhabi's largest real estate developer by market value, an A- long-term rating and Moody's Investor Services an A3 rating with a stable outlook in April. Etisalat said yesterday it had been approached by Iranian businessmen seeking interest in the state-controlled company in investing in Iran's telecommunications sector. "We've been approached by some Iranian businessmen," Etisalat Chairman Mohamed Omran told Reuters. "But it is too early."

Omran declined to identify the Iranian businessmen.

An executive at Etisalat told Reuters earlier on Sunday the Abu Dhabi-listed firm had held talks with the Iranian regulator earlier this year about opportunities in Iran and is studying possibilities to enter the market.

London-based Meed magazine reported in its latest issue the Iranian Government had opened negotiations with international telecom's operators ahead of the auction for Iran's third mobile phone licence in the second half of 2008. Iran is also looking to sell a stake in an existing operator. (Reuters)
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