Etisalat in talks to buy Middle East telco

Head of international investment says Etisalat in advanced talks on taking majority stake of unnamed operator

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By  Ola Galal Published  September 28, 2008

Etisalat is in final-stage talks to buy a majority stake in another Middle East telecoms operator this year, the head of international investments at Etisalat said on Sunday.

"This year we are looking at at least one more acquisition...We are planning to buy a stake in a company, it will be a majority stake,” Jamal Al-Jarwan told Reuters.

"We are in direct talks with this operator, in final stages," he said.

Etisalat bought a 45% stake in India's Swan Telecom last week for about $900 million to tap the world's second-largest wireless market. It also said earlier this month it plans to enter the Iraqi market before the end of year.

Al-Jarwan declined to identify the country where Etisalat, the second-largest Arab telecom firm by market value, plans the acquisition or how much it could spend. He said the firm would announce the deal next month.

Etisalat has been expanding aggressively abroad, snapping up assets in countries such as Pakistan and Egypt. It operates in sixteen countries.

Etisalat's shares closed 3.11% higher on Sunday, having tumbled 16.15% this year to last week's close, underperforming the main stock index, which has declined 15.71%. (Reuters)

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