Communications & IT

Etisalat keen on Warid bid

Etisalat: on road to expansion

Etisalat, a UAE-based telecommunications operator, has hired Goldman Sachs Group to advise on its planned bid for Pakistan mobile operator Warid Telecom, two sources aware of the matter said, according to a Reuters report.

Warid, the country’s smallest operator, has been put on the block in a sale likely to fetch up to $1 billion. Etisalat and China Mobile, who have existing operations in the country, were seen as potential bidders.

Etisalat, which is also in exclusive talks with Vivendi to buy its 53 per cent stake in Maroc Telecom, has existing operations in Pakistan through its stake in Pakistan Telecommunication Co (PTCL). Acquisition of Warid, owned by conglomerate The Abu Dhabi Group, would give the company an opportunity to consolidate its operations in the country.

Both Etisalat and Goldman Sachs declined to comment. Pakistan’s mobile telecommunications sector has five operators and is ripe for consolidation after a period when a troubled economy, increasingly high levels of market penetration and stiff competition forced companies’ margins lower.

Daniel Ritz, Etisalat’s chief strategy officer, said the UAE telecom group would look at opportunities to bolster its existing portfolio without specifying whether the firm was bidding for Warid.

Meanwhile, Etisalat Group reported revenues of Dh9.88 billion ($2.68 billion) for the second quarter of 2013, representing an increase of 20 per cent compared to the same period of last year.

This also marks an increase of 3 per cent compared to the first quarter of 2013. In the UAE, revenues of Dh6.303 billion for Q2 were 12 per cent higher than in Q2 2012.

Etisalat Group’s first six months 2013 revenue increased to Dh19.5 billion vs Dh16.5 billion in the same period of 2012.