Etisalat says $8bn bond, sukuk sale on hold

Telco may look to bid for Syrian license if terms change, says chairman Mohammed Omran

Emirates Telecommunications Corp’s $8bn bond and sukuk program is on hold and won’t be used this year, Chairman Mohammed Omran said Monday in Amman.

The company, known as Etisalat, will revisit a plan to seek Syria’s third mobile telephone license if terms were changed, he said. Etisalat, the Middle East’s largest telephone operator, will focus on the expansion of networks in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Egypt and not acquisitions and new licenses, he said at a conference.

In March, Etisalat withdrew plans to bid for Syria's third mobile licence, saying the terms did not offer sufficient value for shareholders, and it has scrapped a $12bn takeover of Kuwait's Zain.

Etisalat said in May it would spend up to AED3bn ($817m) annually for the next five years on technology for 2G, 3G and 4G networks as well as for IT systems and mobile towers.

The company, which pays 50 percent of its earnings as royalties to the UAE government, said it would look to sign an infrastructure-sharing agreement with rival operator du by the year-end.

Etisalat had 7.43 million UAE mobile subscribers, 1.13 million fixed line subscribers and 0.49 million internet subscribers at the end of March.

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