Etisalat revises its international strategy

Etisalat to focus on existing portfolio and assess new opportunities carefully
Ahmad Julfar said that Etisalat would focus growth from its existing portfolio.
Ahmad Julfar said that Etisalat would focus growth from its existing portfolio.

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After a few years of rapid growth through acquisitions, UAE telco Etisalat plans to reassess its existing portfolio and potentially divest some assets.

Speaking at the TMT Finance & Investment conference in Dubai on Wednesday, Ahmad Julfar, group CEO, Etisalat said that the telco “continued to revise its strategy” and focus on its portfolio.

“We have a very good portfolio in very good markets. Within this portfolio we have a few markets which we are revisiting: should we stay in this market or should we consolidate or should we divest,” he said.

"So the main focus is to refocus on the existing portfolio and that will be on growth opportunities, innovation as well as efficiency. This is the name of the game over the next two to three years which is the medium term in the telecom sector."

Despite the renewed focus on its existing portfolio, Julfar added that Etisalat would continue to “explore growth opportunities.”

“We believe there will be very good opportunities …so we are exploring these opportunities. I think there will be something but completely different than what Etisalat has done in the past,” Julfar said. “So the focus is different. We will be very selective, very careful, but I think there will be some opportunities for Etisalat. This will be our strategy over the next two to three years.”

The performance of Etisalat’s international operations has been mixed in recent years. While the telco has seen strong growth from its operations and investments in markets including Saudi Arabia and Egypt, other markets have proved more difficult.

In February, Etisalat reduced its 2011 consolidated net profit by AED1.02 billion ($277.7m) after accepting losses relating to its Indian operation, Etisalat DB.

Etisalat, which also has operations in African countries including Sudan, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ivory Coast, said that revenues from its international operations increased in the first quarter of 2012, although it failed to provide a break down for its individual operations.

Revenue earned from international operations grew 21% in the first quarter compared to the same period last year, driven mainly by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Afghanistan and Nigeria, Etisalat said.

In February, Etisalat said that it would consider restructuring to reduce costs.

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