Etisalat is pushing ahead with overseas expansion and hopes to boost its earnings to become one of the top 10 telecommunications operators in the world, according to company officials.
The firm, the second largest Arab telecom services provider in terms of market value, already has more than Dh36 billion in foreign investments, and the Middle East, Asia and Africa will remain its target market in the coming period.
Etisalat officials revealed the plan at the two-day Abu Dhabi Economic Forum, where its Chairman Mohammed Omran was among three personalities honoured for what the organisers said were his “excellent achievements”.
Mohammed Omran has “succeeded in transforming etisalat from a UAE company into a global firm covering more than 20 markets in Asia and Africa”, the organisers said in a statement at the end of the forum on Monday.
“Its subscribers have now exceeded 51 million in many countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan. Etisalat’s investments abroad have also surpassed Dh36bn but Omran’s ambitions do not stop there.
“He is working along with his administrative team and staff to turn it into one of the largest 10 telecommunications services companies in the world.”
Etisalat has stepped up a drive to expand its international holdings following the establishment of du, the second telecommunications operation in the UAE, which marked an end to its monopoly of the local market.
The company, which is 40 per cent owned by the government, has made large profits since it was created more than 20 years ago. Its fourth-quarter earnings in 2007 stood at nearly Dh1.76bn, up 19.7 per cent from the previous year.
The company reported last month that its mobile phone subscribers reached nearly 6.4 million at the end of 2007, compared with 6.2 million on September 30, indicating a net addition of 200,000 in the three-month period. Total revenues jumped 31 per cent to Dh21.34bn in the year. It posted profit attributable to shareholders of Dh7.297bn, or Dh1.46 per share in 2007, compared with Dh5.86bn, or Dh1.17 per share in 2006.
“Today, etisalat’s operations cover around 830 million people across Asia, Africa and Middle East,” Jamal Al Jarwan, head of etisalat’s International Investments, told participants at the Abu Dhabi forum.
“Etisalat presently focuses on the Middle East, Asia and African markets as they still have high populations and, therefore, will enjoy a higher growth rate in terms of technology adoption than other markets,” he added.
“As such etisalat is an active partner in the development of infrastructure in the telecommunication sector in these countries.
“These markets are also in need of many technologies and services and the numbers of individuals not subscribed to mobile phone and fixed line services remain high, indicating greater growth potential in this sector,” he said.
The telecom firm currently operates in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sudan, Tanzania, Benin, Burkina Faso, Gabon, Togo, Niger, the Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Afghanistan, Egypt and the UAE.
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