UAE company e& looks to expand beyond telecoms and widen international footprint

The conglomerate will pursue acquisitions of high-return tech businesses

Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, launched e&, marking the transformation of Etisalat Group into a global technology and investment conglomerate. Wam
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The UAE’s biggest telecom operator e&, formerly known as Etisalat, has set its sights on international expansion, larger market share and acquisitions to drive growth across all business segments, its chairman said.

The group, which has restructured as a global technology and investment conglomerate, will seek to capture regional growth opportunities while pursuing markets beyond, Jassem Mohamed Bu Ataba Alzaabi, chairman of e&, told journalists in Dubai on Saturday.

“Our exemplary financials and strong standing in the market demonstrate our strength and capability to take our success to new heights as we refocus our efforts in investing in breakthrough technologies, accelerating in-depth market penetrations and capitalising on solid ventures with key industry players,” said Mr Alzaabi.

“Moreover, the digital revolution and its impact on the business world has given us ample confidence to expand even further through the business pillars.”

Based in Abu Dhabi, the operator was founded in 1976 and is the UAE’s oldest telecoms company. It has operations in countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa, serving 159 million customers.

Last week, it reported a 3 per cent rise in 2021 net profit to Dh9.3 billion ($2.5bn). Revenue rose 3 per cent on the year to Dh53.3bn during the period.

The operator is also exploring the development of 6G, the next generation mobile network that will allow for much faster and more sophisticated technology use.

The company has an “undisputed market position” across the Mena region, with the ICT market across the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt expected to grow by more than 15 per cent annually from 2020 to 2025, e& said on Saturday.

We refocus our efforts in investing in breakthrough technologies, accelerating in-depth market penetrations and capitalising on solid ventures with key industry players
Jassem Mohamed Bu Ataba Alzaabi, chairman of e&

“We are the bridge-builders who have mastered the art of combining our scalable technological competencies with our telecoms expertise [to] drive positive change for our customers, unlock more shareholder value and strengthen our global presence,” Mr Alzaabi said.

“Through our main business pillars, we are creating a future-ready business model.”

The group has outlined four business pillars as building blocks in its transformation journey.

Telecoms, the growth engine for e&, will retain the previous branding identity in the UAE and internationally. It will expand into new markets while continuing to drive operational performance in existing ones.

With a presence in 16 countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa, this business will explore new geographies through building partnerships and scaling synergies in the telecom industry, the company said.

Division e& life will deliver next-generation technologies and digital experiences through smart connectivity platforms in entertainment, retail and financial services.

Its new e& enterprise section will drive the digital transformation of governments, corporates and large organisations.

The company's e& capital arm will focus on new acquisitions and mergers in line with its vision to invest in “ideas that make the future”. It will acquire, grow and support visionary tech businesses that will create high returns, the company said.

It is important to harness a growth mindset to see beyond the world of telecoms, said Hatem Dowidar, group chief executive of e&.

“Technological disruption brought with it winds of change that we’ve never seen before. Our quest to go beyond the realms of telecom exhorted us to ideate, design and deploy solutions that would transform the lives of our customers and advance the digitalisation journey of enterprises,” Mr Dowidar said.

The group will transform the UAE telco business by diversifying footprint and reducing home market dependency, he added.

Updated: February 26, 2022, 2:21 PM