UPDATE 1-UAE's Etisalat plans to raise stake in Indian unit

Mon Feb 1, 2010 5:58pm IST

* Seeks approval to increase India unit stake to 50 pct

* Buys rest of stake in Atlantique Telecom for $75 mln

DUBAI, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Etisalat ETEL.AD, the UAE's Emirates Telecommunications Corp, said it is to raise its profile in India and Africa by boosting its stake in its Indian unit and buying the rest of its African venture.

The telecoms operator, which currently holds 44.7 percent of Etisalat DB, said it is seeking approval to raise its stake to 50 percent, plus one share.

Etisalat, which on Sunday posted a 40 percent rise in fourth quarter net profit, bought its Etisalat DB stake for about $900 million in 2008. [ID:LDE60U0BG]

Jamal al-Jarwan, Etisalat's international chief, declined to comment on the Indian expansion plan.

The Arab world's second-largest telecom operator, also said on Monday it had bought the rest of its stake in Africa-focused company Atlantique Telecom for $75 million.

Etisalat operates Atlantique Telecom as part of a 10-year management contract ending in 2015, it said.

Atlantique holds majority stakes in seven telecommunications organisations in Africa, including in Niger, Togo and Gabon, Etisalat said in a statement on the bourse website, in which it called the company Atlantic Telecom.

Etisalat has faced increased competition in its home market after its monopoly was broken in 2007 by Dubai-based du DU.DU.

It currently operates in 18 countries, including Egypt and India.

The company is one of a number of Gulf Arab telecom operators that have expanded overseas after losing their monopolies at home.

Shares of Etisalat closed 0.9 percent higher at 11.1 dirhams in Abu Dhabi.

(Reporting by Dinesh Nair; Editing by Mike Nesbit)

((dinesh.nair@thomsonreuters.com; Reuters Messaging: dinesh.nair.reuters.com@reuters.net; +971 4 391 8031)) Keywords: ETISALAT EXPANSION

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