Abu Dhabi’s Etisalat confirmed on Wednesday it is looking to buy a stake in an Indian mobile operator, after a report that it was in talks with Reliance Communications for a $3.8-billion (Rs 17,900-crore) deal.
Reliance Comm said it has been receiving strategic proposals from time to time from international companies.
“The company evaluates such proposals, in line with the company’s policy to constantly endeavour to enhance overall shareholder value,” RCom told stock exchanges.
Etisalat Chairman Mohammad Omran declined to comment about the Reliance report and said Etisalat had not taken any final decisions.
“We are talking to several Indian operators and are evaluating several Indian operators but have not reached a final decision. It may take a few weeks or it may take a few months,” he said. “We think the Indian market is ready for consolidation.”
Shahid Balwa, Etisalat DB Telecom India vice-chairman, told Hindustan Times that the UAE parent routed all its operations through his unit.
“I can say that Etisalat is not talking to any operator for buying equity,” he said. “We are in discussions with several companies for using their infrastructure, however, this does not mean that we are consolidating with them.”
Under Indian licence conditions, Etisalat cannot own more than 10 per cent equity in any Indian telecom operator as it already owns 45 per cent equity in Etisalat DB. Merger and acquisition guidelines do not permit any other operator to acquire Etisalat DB.