Etisalat wants foreign ownership ban lifted

The telecoms giant is the latest company to seek an international shareholder base.

Emirates Telecommunication Corp., (Etisalat) has asked the government to lift a ban on foreign investment in its stock and hopes the change will be made within months, the chairman said on Tuesday.

"We discussed this issue with the government and they promised us a solution soon. We discussed it more than once. The government is moving in this direction," Chairman Mohamed Hassan Omran told Reuters in the Jordanian capital Amman.

Asked when he thought the change would be made he said: "I hope in the coming months."

By law only nationals of the United Arab Emirates are allowed to own Etisalat's shares.

However, the Abu Dhabi Securities Market, on which Etisalat is listed, is currently campaigning to attract more international investers.

On Saturday the bourse announced that it is to launch a roadshow in London (June 11-12) and New York (June 14-15) with this in mind.

"We are seeing increasing interest in the region from investors in the West, and this roadshow will strengthen that trend," said the exchange's acting director general Rashed al-Baloushi.

"We are not satisfied with the number of foreign investors which is only 36%," Al Baloushi has previously been quoted as saying.

Etisalat will not participate as only companies that allow foreign ownership - in whole or in part - will take part in the roadshow.

However, this week it emerged that the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA) is preparing to open its shares for foreign investors soon, and would join the marketing trip.

The Dubai Financial Market recently arranged a similar marketing trip to London, which included presentations from companies such as Emaar Properties - the largest Arab real estate developer by market value - and Dubai Islamic Bank.

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