Mohammad Omran reveals Etisalat's European ambitions

Speaking to CommsMEA last week, Omran was less forthright about his European aspirations, focussing more on regional opportunities in the Middle East. “There is a possibility that one day you’ll find us in Europe. It is not yet decided, there is no one we are talking about today, but the possibility is there,” he said.

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By  Alex Ritman Published  January 29, 2006

The chairman and CEO of Etisalat has confirmed that the operator is looking towards Europe as a potential overseas market for investment. Mohammad Omran, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said that to become one of the world’s top telcos, the move was essential for the UAE operator. “Our aim over the next five years is to be among the top 10 telecoms companies by market value and to do so we have to be in Europe,” he said. Speaking to CommsMEA last week, Omran was less forthright about his European aspirations, focussing more on regional opportunities in the Middle East. “There is a possibility that one day you’ll find us in Europe. It is not yet decided, there is no one we are talking about today, but the possibility is there,” he said. But the European intentions of Etisalat were strengthened by the rumours that it was considering making a move for TDC, the Danish incumbent with several international interests. Having been up for sale for some time, TDC was bought last week for US$12 billion by the Nordic Telephone Consortium, comprising investment groups Apax, Blackstone, Permira, Providence, and Kohlberg, Kravis Roberts. It has been suggested that the consortium is simply looking for a quick sale. Omran himself claimed that the new owners may consider selling a stake in TDC’s operations outside of Denmark. Through its TDC Song brand, the company has operations across Scandinavia, but also provides services in Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland and Switzerland. In the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, TDC operates the easyMobile virtual network operations. TDC already has interests in the Middle East. Working with Qtel, the company helped establish the operator’s Nawras mobile operation in Oman, the country’s second GSM operator. Qtel has stated that, working with TDC, it wishes to enter three further markets in the region. At the World Economic Forum, Omran admitted that TDC had been on Etisalat’s radar, confirming that the company was ‘evaluating’ the target. However, since then Etisalat has played down the rumours spread by this comment, ruling out any immediate plans to purchase TDC.

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