UAE telco Etisalat has denied any involvement in India’s 2G spectrum scandal and said that it expects its Indian joint venture, Etisalat DB, to defend itself “resolutely” against charges from Indian authorities relating to the case.
In a statement posted on the Abu Dhabi stock exchange website, Etisalat said that the charges made against India’s Swan Telecom - in which Etisalat holds a 44.7% stake - relate to events that occurred at least one year prior Etisalat’s investment in the company.
“Etisalat had no knowledge of any wrong-doing in the licence application process for Swan and had no involvement in it,” Etisalat said.
Etisalat stated that the licence applications were “entirely conducted by the promoters of Swan Telecom who subsequently marketed the Swan investment opportunity to Etisalat through a well-known investment bank”.
The telco added that its due diligence prior to the acquisition failed to reveal any “wrong-doing or grounds for concern”. Etisalat added that it sees no basis for the charges levied against Etisalat DB and that it “expects EDB to defend the charges resolutely”.
Etisalat entered the Indian market in 2008 when it acquired a 45% stake in Indian start-up Swan Telecom, for about $900 million.
However, the Indian market proved more hostile than expected for Etisalat and other international players that entered the market. Numerous companies that acquired 2G spectrum have been implicated in the ongoing 2G spectrum, while telcos have also been hit by declining tariffs and restrictions on imports of telecoms equipment.