UAE telecom operator plans India foray

April 2nd, 2008 - 10:53 pm ICT by admin  

Dubai, April 2 (IANS) The United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) largest telecom services provider Etisalat announced Wednesday it was planning to enter the Indian market and is in talks with Spice Communications and other players in the country. “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.

“Etisalat has entered into direct meetings with various entities, amongst them Spice Communications, although nothing has been finalised at this stage,” he said.

NDTV Profit had reported Tuesday that Spice Communications chairman B.K. Modi planned to sell his stake in the company to overseas companies.

Etisalat has kept two options open to foray into India - by acquiring a stake in an existing company or obtaining a fresh licence.

India had around 251 million mobile-phone subscribers till the end of February this year.

Etisalat had Tuesday announced the launch of a pilot service for money remittance to India.

The company will work with Mashreqbank, Tata Communications (formerly VSNL), Idea Cellular and HSBC India to roll out this new service following completion of the pilot phase.

“This joint launch with Tata Communications and Idea Cellular is just the start of a comprehensive initiative to broaden the scope of Etisalat’s mobile commerce initiatives,” Etisalat’s chief marketing officer Essa Al Haddad had said in a statement.

The service will be commercially available to the public by June 2008.

“We believe the convenience of this service, its ease of use and lower transaction costs will constitute a great attraction for the large Indian expatriate population here in the country,” Al Haddad said.

Last month, the telecom operator had set up a software unit in Bangalore.

Set up as a new subsidiary called Etisalat Software Solutions, it operates under the Technologia brand name.

Registered as a 100 percent export-oriented unit, Technologia is targeted to provide software products and IT services to Etisalat, its subsidiaries and other telecommunications companies in the region.

Established in 1976, Etisalat is the oldest telecommunications service provider in the UAE.

The company stands 140th among the Financial Times Top 500 companies in the world in terms of market capitalization, and is ranked by The Middle East magazine as the sixth largest in the region in terms of capitalization and revenues.

According to the company’s website, it is the largest contributor outside the oil sector to development programmes of the UAE government.

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