Etisalat shareholders approve record dividend payment of Dh1.2 per share for 2020

The company also received a nod to increase the foreign ownership cap to 49%

Etisalat, in January, announced to increase the foreign ownership limit from 20 per cent to 49 per cent. Courtesy Etisalat
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Etisalat's shareholders approved a record dividend payment of Dh1.2 per share for 2020 and gave nod to the board's recommendation to increase its foreign ownership cap.

The dividend includes a one-time special pay out of 40 fils per share, despite the "current macro-economic climate", Etisalat said in a statement on Thursday.

At its annual general meeting on Wednesday, operator’s shareholders also backed the recommendation to increase the foreign ownership limit to 49 per cent to attract more external investors.

The move will help “diversify the investor base” and add “further value to our current shareholders as well as bring liquidity and depth in Etisalat’s financial capabilities,” Obaid Humaid Al Tayer, chairman of Etisalat Group, said.

The UAE biggest telecoms operator, which was established more than four decades ago, had first opened up for foreign ownership in 2015 with a 20 per cent cap. The company with 154 million subscribers in 16 countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, is 60 per cent owned by the Emirates Investment Authority. The remainder is traded on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange.

Etisalat reported a 3.8 per cent rise in net profit last year despite a marginal decline in revenue. Net profit attributable to equity holders in the 12 months to the end of December rose to Dh9.03 billion, compared with Dh8.69bn a year earlier.

“In 2020 we have delivered robust financial performance,” Hatem Dowidar, the company’s chief executive, said.

“During these challenging times, we advanced our efforts to digitally transform our business both internally … and externally to all our customers … this led to increasing our subscriber base by 3.6 per cent,” he added.