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Etisalat eyes more acquisitions in 2010

Chairman says group will continue to expand this year with addition of more operators

Etisalat eyes more acquisitions in 2010
"We are focusing at this time on the Middle East..." - Mohammad Omran, Etisalat CEO.

Mobile World Congress, Barcelona: UAE telco Etisalat is still firmly in acquisition mode and will continue to look for operators to add to its group, chairman Mohammad Omran confirmed today, as the telco seeks to expand its footprint across the Middle East and Africa.

Speaking to delegates at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Omran highlighted the acquisitions made by Etisalat in the last few years, including Nigeria, India and Sri Lanka, as evidence of the firm's desire to keep growing, and he said he was confident that the group would continue to expand this year with the addition of more operators to the group.

"We are focusing at this time on the Middle East, where we have a good understanding of the market, and where we have the right solution for the market. Morocco, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Iran - where we worked very hard but decided not to proceed any more - and maybe some of the markets in Africa," were all of interest, he said.

Etisalat is in talks with Iraq operator Korek Telecom, and it has also said it is confident of being granted a licence to establish an operation in Libya.

The Etisalat chairman struck an optimistic tone when he said it was "just the beginning" of the telecom operator's story, despite the rising penetration rates around the world and an estimated 5 billion subscribers from a global population of some 6 billion.

It was in contrast to the chairman of Egypt-based Orascom, Naguib Sawiris, who said that such high levels of penetration signalled that operators were "nearing the end" of the days of rapid growth and "easy money".

One potential area of growth that Omran refered to was the world of machine to machine communication. "We have more than 59 million machines in the world, and if we can connect them together, then we can have much more subscribers," he added.

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