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Etisalat takes over Sudan telco

UAE operator doubles stake in Canar to 82% as it continues aggressive international expansion.

Etisalat, the second-biggest Arab telecom firm by market value, said on Monday it took control of Sudan's Canar Telecommunications Company by almost doubling its stake to 82%.

Etisalat, which operates in 16 countries, did not say how much it paid for the additional 45% in Canar in a statement on the Abu Dhabi bourse website. The company could not be reached for comment.

Like other Gulf Arab telecom firms, Etisalat has been hunting for foreign assets as it faces growing competition in its home market, where its monopoly was broken by Du last February.

"The company has been the most aggressive in the region in terms of expansion abroad," said Wael Ziada, director of telecoms research at Cairo-based EFG-Hermes.

"What we've seen today is the continuation of a consolidation trend whereby the company raises its stakes in existing operations, but that does not preclude us seeing new greenfield acquisitions."

Etisalat has been focusing its expansion on Africa because the continent has opportunities for growth, chief executive of Etisalat International Investments Jamal Al-Jarwan said in a statement in September.

Chairman Mohammad Hassan Omran told newswire Reuters in an interview in November the company was considering new investments of up to $5 billion in Africa.

In October, it took over Tanzania's fourth operator Zanzibar Telecom and in September bought an additional 40% stake in a new telecom firm in Nigeria.

Last month, the firm said it would buy a 16% stake in PT Excelcomindo Pratama for $438 million to enter Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country.

The firm's shares, up 49.58% last year, fell 0.21% in trading on Monday. (Reuters)