Etisalat mulls changes to foreign ownership rules

Shares in the UAE telco rose on speculation it may allow overseas shareholders
ETISALAT, Telecoms, UAE

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UAE telco Etisalat, saw its shares rise 1.4 percent on Sunday as it was reported its board may “soon” allow foreigners to own shares.

The Abu Dhabi-based operator’s Group CEO Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar told Al Khaleej newspaper a decision on whether to allow foreign ownership of the company’s shares would be decided “soon”.

Etisalat, which is 60 percent owned by the UAE government, saw its shares rise 1.4 percent yesterday, the most since June 21. Earlier this month, Etisalat said it was up to the UAE federal government to decide on the issue.

Etisalat earlier this month announced a net profit after federal royalty of AED1.9bn ($517m) for the second quarter of 2012. The figure represented growth of three percent over the previous quarter, and a year-on-year growth of 17 percent on quarterly Group consolidated revenue of AED8.252bn, an increase of four percent year-on-year.

The company, the Gulf's No 2 telecom operator and present in 16 countries, said in a statement that revenue from international operations grew by 14 percent to AED2.3bn.

In the UAE, revenues declined by 0.4 percent to AED5.643bn due to lower voice revenues in both mobile and fixed segments.

Etisalat said it was focusing on creating value in high population, high growth markets such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Nigeria, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

It added that it maintained a solid financial position with a consolidated cash balance of AED10.5bn, leading to a positive net cash balance of AED5.2bn

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