DUBAI (Reuters) – Abu Dhabi-based Emirates Telecommunications Corp ETEL.AD (Etisalat) will bid for a 51 percent stake in state-run Algerie Telecom, an Etisalat executive said in remarks published in a newspaper on Monday.
“Etisalat is very interested in investment opportunities especially in big markets in North Africa such as the Algerian market,” al-Khaleej newspaper quoted Jamal al-Jarwan, chief executive of international investments as saying.
“The company plans to compete for buying 51 percent of Telecom Algerie,” said Jarwan, adding that the Algerian firm has expressed its wish to sell the stake.
In January, Etisalat Chairman Mohammad Omran said his firm was prepared to pay up to $3 billion for Algerie Telecom and that Algeria was expected to announce details of a partial privatization of the firm in the first half of 2007.
Etisalat, the Arab world’s second-largest listed telecom operator by market value, has been expanding aggressively abroad after it lost a telecom monopoly in the UAE this year after du DU.DU started a mobile phone network in February.
Mobile telephone penetration in the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven emirates including oil exporter Abu Dhabi and regional trade and tourism hub Dubai, exceeds 150 percent.
State-controlled Etisalat has operations in 16 countries including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. In the last month, it failed to enter mobile telephone markets in Kuwait and Qatar after its bids came in too low.