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New sectors to drive e& growth as telecoms becomes ‘saturated’

UAE tech and telecoms company e& – formerly Etisalat – is looking at more acquisitions in the GCC as well as Africa and Eastern Europe. 

“We are in processes as we speak,” said Salvador Anglada, CEO of e& enterprise, during an exclusive roundtable at Gitex.

The telecoms major rebranded from Etisalat last year to become a technology and investment company.

Since its transition from a “telco to a techco” the group has acquired stakes in companies including ride-hailer Careem, streaming service Starzplay, lending platform Beehive, South Korean cloud management company Bespin Global and PPF Telecom Group in Eastern Europe.

Anglada believes that telecom as an industry “is saturated”, which is why it was an “intelligent” decision for the company to expand its business by introducing new pillars such as utilities, aviation and retail. 

With 165 million aggregate subscribers, the telecoms arm is driving cash flow, which is helping the group to fund its expansion and acquisitions. It reported consolidated revenues of AED 26.6 billion in the first half of 2023.

“The cash flow generation of telco is quite heavy,” Anglada said. “The free cash flow is around $4 to $5 billion. So the expansion is coming because we are able to fund that.”

However, the long-term plan is for the group to go public, he added. “The way the company has been structured will allow (us) to eventually IPO the business. We believe this is the right strategy.”

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