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Etisalat lines up $4 bn for India buy, eyes Spice

UAE’s Emirates Telecommunications Corp (Etisalat) on Tuesday said that it would spend up to $4 billion (Rs 16,000 crore) to acquire a licence or buyout an Indian telco, while also adding that Spice Telecom was amongst the possibilities. “Our aim is to buy into an operator that covers most of India, and Spice is one possibility,” Mohammed Omran, chairman of the Arab world’s second-biggest telecoms firm, told international media in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. “The market value for shares (in India) have gone down a little so it’s a good time for us to consider entry,” Mr Omran told Reuters.

The report also adds that Etisalat, during this month, was in talks with several Indian companies including Spice, but had not finalised any deal so far. Spice apart, the UAE-based telecom major is also in talks to pick up stake in Videocon-owned Datacom and realty major Unitech, both of whom were awarded telecom licenses recently. Etisalat, which has operations in 16 countries and 51 million customers, has spend over $5 billion over the last four years to acquire mobile operators in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Besides, the company had recently announced that it was picking up a 16.5% stake in Pakistan-based telco PT Excelcomindo Pratama.
Several global communication majors are looking for a foothold to enter India, the world’s fastest growing telecom market. While India already has 12 firms providing wireless and fixed-line telephone services to over 300 million users, industry estimates say that an additional 500 million new customers can be added over the next five years, making it the country that has most potential for growth. Last month, the country established a new record by signing up over 10 million new mobile subscribers.

Industry watchers say that Etlisalat’s will face a hurdle in Telekom Malaysia in its efforts to buy out Spice. This is because, the Malaysian communications giant, which currently has a 39.20% stake in Spice, has constantly been trying to get controlling stake in the company.

Source: Economic Times

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