UAE telecom major Etisalat invests in India

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Dubai, Sep 24: Etisalat, the UAE telecom major has signed an agreement to buy about 45 per cent stake in India's Swan Telecom for 900 million dollars (Dh3.31 billion) and may raise the stakes to 51 per cent once permission is granted for the same.

The UAE telecom operator has subscribed to newly issues shares by the recently licenced Swan Telecom, which has a capital of up to two billion dollars. Speculation had been rife for the past few weeks that Etisalat was interested in a 51 per cent stake in the Mumbai-based company. The Indian real estate and hospitality business group Dynamix Balwas Group holds the controlling share in Swan. Several other entities also own the shares, including the promoter of Swan Telecom. The Gulf News quoted its sources as saying that two well-known politicians of the country were also unofficially involved in the company.

Mohammad Hassan Omran, chairman of Etisalat, said their entry into India ''marks an acceleration of our expansion strategy and brings to us an opportunity which matches the scale of our ambitions.'' This move comes at a time when the operator faces stiffer competition in its home country since a second licence was given by the government last year to du telecom.

Mobile phone penetration in the UAE, which has a population of 4.5 million, exceeds 150 per cent.

The company has already created flutters in Indian telecom circles by announcing it would provide national roaming at the cost of 52 paise (4.3 fils) per minute, with the permission of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

The rates being offered for roaming facilities for Swan subscribers is even lower than other mobile service operators charge for making local mobile-to-mobile calls.


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