DUBAI, (Reuters) – Emirates Telecommunications Corp. (Etisalat) is open to partnerships or obtaining new licences as it seeks to expand into different markets, the United Arab Emirates carrier said on Tuesday.
Available mergers and acquisition opportunities are decreasing despite an ongoing need for consolidation within the industry, Ahmed bin Ali, Etisalat’s senior vice president for corporate communications, said on the sidelines of a business conference.
“Competition is healthy and good for customers but if we are overdoing it, it will be miserable for customers. Price wars (mean) less services will be introduced, less investment,” Ali said, adding that regulators can play a role in helping small players consolidate with other operators.
Ali said the company has enough reserve cash to buy another operator, if the opportunity meets its investment strategy.
But in the absence of consolidation opportunities, Ali said the company sees greenfield licences or partnerships as an ideal way to enter markets, such as Asia and Africa.
“There’s a chance of consolidation (but) if this is not available, the right model for most of the market is partnering or alliances between operators where they can benefit from economies of scale, resources and technology,” he said.
“Different operators in Asia and Africa can will be able to benefit from our experience.”
Etisalat, which operates in 18 countries, has reported falling profits in five of the past six quarters.
About three quarters of its revenues in the first half of 2011 came from the UAE, where rival du now claims a 44 percent share of the oil exporter’s mobile subscribers. Du launched services in 2007.
Mobile penetration in the UAE was 145 percent in 2010, down from 154 percent a year earlier, according to the International Telecommunications Union.