Etisalat moves for Tigo

The UAE telecom provider makes a bid to acquire Sri Lanka's second-largest mobile network.

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Etisalat has made a bid to acquire Tigo, Sri Lanka's second-largest mobile network, joining other emerging market operators such as India's Bharti Airtel and BSNL in a bidding war for the company. Tigo is owned by the Luxembourg-based telecom holding company Millicom, which said earlier this year that it would sell its Asian businesses to focus on Africa and South America. Etisalat announced the bid in a stock market statement, but did not disclose the price it was offering to pay for the network, which has more than two million customers, according to a January press statement. But a Wall Street Journal report recently said Bharti would be willing to pay up to US$120 million (Dh440.7m) for the company.

If successful in acquiring the company, Etisalat will be active across the subcontinent, with networks in Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka. The bid suggests Etisalat is continuing its rapid overseas acquisition, and follows moves this year to acquire networks or licenses in Iran, Morocco and Libya. The company is also looking for opportunities to enter Lebanon and Syria, its chairman said earlier in the year.

Earlier in the month, the company was listed by Nigeria's Bureau for Public Enterprises as one of 13 parties interested in buying Nitel, a state-owned former monopoly telecommunications provider. Etisalat already operates its own network in Nigeria.