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Etisalat doesn’t see a deal with Reliance this year

Etisalat still very interested in Morocco.

September 7, 2010 10:59 by



Emirates Telecommunication Corp., the Arab world’s second-largest telecom operator by market value, does not expect a deal with India’s Reliance Communications in 2010, its international chief said on Tuesday.

Jamal al-Jarwan, Etisalat’s international chief, told Reuters the company is considering different options in the Indian market and did not rule out an investment in telecoms firm Idea Cellular, and added that he remains keen on Morocco.

Debt-laden Reliance Communications, controlled by billionaire Anil Ambani, said in early June it was looking to sell a 26 percent stake in the firm.

So far, only Abu Dhabi-based Etisalat has acknowledged that it is considering a deal with Reliance Comm, the only major local cellular carrier without a foreign strategic investor in the world’s fastest-growing mobile market.

“I don’t see any deal in the near future,” Jarwan said. “Definitely not this year. We are taking our time.”

Etisalat has been expanding aggressively overseas after losing its monopoly in its home market. It is present in 18 markets globally in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Jarwan also said the operator was still “very interested” in the Moroccon market.

“We hope we can move in the right direction with our friends in Morocco. We were very close at one point in time towards signing a deal and we are still waiting,” he said, adding that progress had slowed during the summer months.

The operator failed last year in a bid to take a stake in Meditel, Morocco’s second-largest telecommunications’ firm.

France Telecom is in discussions about taking a stake in Meditel and could be weeks away from signing a deal, its chief executive said on Thursday. (Reporting by Tamara Walid; Editing by Reed Stevenson)



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