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Etisalat in talks over India expansion

UAE telecom held meeting with India's Spice Communications about investing in country.

UAE telecom Etisalat said on Wednesday it held meetings with India's Spice Communications and others about possibly making investments to enter the Indian telecom market.

Shares of Spice, which plans to list its mobile phone unit this year after a $100 million initial public offering (IPO), have surged almost 30% during the last three trading days. They ended up 10.24% on Wednesday.

"India is a very attractive market for Etisalat and we are studying different market entry strategies to determine the most appropriate fit," Etisalat Chairman Mohammad Omran said in a statement.

"We have also entered into direct meetings with various entities, amongst them Spice Communications," Omran said, though no agreements have been made.

The second-largest Arab telecom company by market value is also looking at bidding for an Indian telecom licence, he said.

State-controlled and privately held Gulf Arab telecom companies, like Etisalat, Kuwait's Zain and Qatar-based Qtel, have stepped up foreign acquisitions in the last three years, buoyed by rising earnings in the world's biggest oil exporting region.

Etisalat operates in 16 countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. In March, it started a company in India to develop software products and mobile phone applications. (Reuters)

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