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Etisalat cash grab (one text at a time)

Etisalat cash grab (one text at a time)

The UAE’s big telecoms operator is on an international expansion drive, but that means it needs money. Perhaps a quick quiz could help raise some cash?

November 10, 2010 12:21 by

Etisalat is on the hunt for some cash. Having stuck it’s hands down the sofa in reception, it came up with two dirhams and a hair clip, but that’s not enough, apparently. The UAE’s major telco wants to buy a hefty chunk of Zain, Kuwait’s giant telecoms conglomerate.

According to the National, Etisalat is attempting to ingest a considerable 51 percent of Zain shares on the Kuwait stock exchange. To do so it needs an awfully big pile of cash – around $12 billion dollars, in fact, which Etisalat intends to secure with equally heavy cash bags from 12 different banks.

And no wonder. Zain is a major player, with 5,000 employees across 8 countries and more than 34 million subscribers, even after selling its mobile interests in Africa (which covered 15 countries) in June of this year in a $10 billion deal. So, like a snake eating large rodent, Etisalat is dislocating it’s jaw and seeking major loans for the purchase.

Perhaps the need for cash is the reason behind Etisalat’s most recent crazy ploy, an SMS text quiz that Gulf News reported yesterday. The telco sent subscribers a promotional SMS telling them that if they replied, they’d be in with a chance of winning AED 25,000. After replying (at a cost of AED 5), they are told that in order to enter the draw they must take part in a quiz, and every answer costs AED 5. But the stream of questions is continuous, according to the paper.

Gulf News reader Paul Michael said: “I received the text message and … participated many times. With the website’s name and [the fact that] it is from etisalat, who wouldn’t fall for that? The authorities or whoever is responsible must take action on this matter and prevent this from happening again.”

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