Keeping India options open, no plans on Idea yet: Etilsalat

"There are no immediate plans to invest in or acquire India's Idea Cellular. However, all options are open as far as investment in the Indian market is concerned," Etisalat's Chief Executive for International Investments, Jamal Al Jarwan, told Dubai-based Arabic daily Al Bayan. When contacted, an Idea Cellular spokesperson declined to comment.

A newspaper report here quoted Al Jarwan as saying that media reports about his company's plans to invest in or acquire the Indian telco are "mere ideas". Other media reports quoted Al Jarwan as saying that Etisalat also does not expect a deal with India's Reliance Communications this year.

Earlier, company officials had said the UAE's largest telecom operator is seriously considering expanding into overseas markets, particularly the growing markets of Syria and India. Etisalat already has a presence in the Indian market as Etilsalat DB Telecom India Pvt Ltd, which was earlier known as Swan Telecom. On June 3, Etisalat Chairman Mohammed Omran revealed that the telecom firm was evaluating several Indian telecom firms for a possible stake acquisition, but had not reached a final decision.

Since then, there has been no word from the telecom on its plans for India. Etisalat is also waiting for the issuance of tender requirements by the Syrian government that will enable it to bid for Syria's third mobile license, Jarwan said.

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