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The dish on Etisalat
Troubling times for Etisalat DB, but Etisalat itself may be one step closer to sealing the deal with Zain, not to mention getting Etisalat TV broadcasted all over the place.
February 10, 2011 2:37 by Eva Fernandes
Etisalat, Etisalat, Etisalat, will you ever give Kipp a moment’s peace? The teleco has been all over the news once again this past week for good and not-so-good reasons. Here’s a round up of major developments in the story:
Etisalat is currently in talks with a satellite company about getting its television and video on demand channels broadcasted across the Middle East, North Africa and southwest Asia. The satellite company they are in talks with is Abu Dhabi’s Yahsat (owned by Mubadala Development), which is planning on launching its first satellite in the next two months with a second satellite to be launched in the second half of the year. Jassem al Zaabi, the chief executive of Yahsat, told The National, “YahLive is a broadcasting platform but we are not content providers, we are content investors. We broadcast that content. There are few broadcast facilitators or brokers in this area and Etisalat is definitely one of them.”
Shahid Balwa, the vice chairman of Etisalat DB (Etisalat’s Indian subsidiary) was arrested this Tuesday on charges of being involved with the multi-billion dollar 2G telco scam in India. India’s CBI alleges that Balwa worked with former telco minister Andimuthu Raja to acquire licenses at lower prices for his company, Swan Telecom (which later became Etisalat DB when Etisalat got involved with the telco). Balwa’s arrest is particularly significant as he is the first non-government official to be arrested in relation to the scam.
Etisalat, which owns a 45 percent stake in Etisalat DB, has tried to distance itself from the entire controversy; in fact it denies having played a role in any of it. In an emailed statement to Khaleej Times, Etisalat said: “Etisalat had no involvement whatsoever in the UAS licence application process. Etisalat acquired its stake in Etisalat DB (formerly Swan Telecom Pvt Ltd), in December 2008, which means the company’s investment in Etisalat DB took place entirely after the 15 UAS licences had been applied for and obtained by Swan).”
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