UAE telecom Etisalat has not ruled out expansion into Iraq after dropping its $12bn bid for a chunk of Kuwait’s Zain that would have given it access to the market, a senior executive said, according to a report from Arabian Business.
“We are looking at all opportunities,” said Ahmed Bin Ali, group senior vice president of corporate communications. “If we think it is worth it we are on the same speed of expansion whenever there is a chance to do so.”
Etisalat, which is majority-owned by the government, is pushing to expand its overseas operations to offset declining revenues in the UAE, where it no longer holds a monopoly.
A successful bid for 46 percent of Zain would have given Etisalat access to new markets including Jordan, Morocco and Iraq.
Iraq is planning to raise $2bn when it sells the country’s fourth mobile telecoms licence. Etisalat, alongside US-based Verizon Communications, South Africa's MTN and Turkcell in Turkey, are rumoured to be interested in bidding.
Mobile penetration rates in Iraq top 70 percent. The country’s two largest operators, Zain and Asiacell, have more than 12 million and 8.13 million subscribers respectively.
(Source: Arabian Business)