Etisalat committed to Mobily despite ban: CEO

UAE telco pledges support for KSA affiliate in wake of pre-paid suspension
Etisalat, Mobily, Sims

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UAE telco Etisalat on Tuesday confirmed its ongoing support for Saudia Arabian affiliate operator Mobily, in the wake of its recent suspension by kingdom regulators from new business in the pre-paid SIM card market, Reuters reported.

"Etisalat is committed to this relationship and support of Mobily," CEO Ahmad Julfar said in an email to Reuters.

"Etisalat has always maintained its keenness to strengthen its investment in Saudi Arabia through Mobily as it views the Saudi market as a very important and key market in its portfolio."

The pre-paid ban was in connection with Mobily's failure to comply with a September ruling by national telecoms regulator, the Communication and Information Technology Commission (CITC). The ruling ordered all mobile operators to ensue that when subscribers recharge accounts, they do so with a PIN number that must match the one filed with the operator when the SIM card was first purchased. Despite Mobily's insistence that the loss of pre-paid revenues was "insignificant" analysts predict trouble if the dispute is not resolved quickly.

Etisalat now operates in 15 countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa, with Mobily - Saudi Arabia's number-two operator - one of its more successful investments after more than tripling its annual profit from 2007 to 2011.

Julfar indicated yesterday that Etisalat was still eager to increase its 28% stake in its Saudi affiliate, but analysts expect any such deal to be expensive given Mobily's recent stock performance.

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