Dubai: UAE’s telecom giant, e&, formerly Etisalat, on Saturday unveiled a comprehensive plan to drive its transformation as a global technology leader that includes geographical expansion, deeper market penetration and new ventures and acquisitions.
“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 capitalizing on solid ventures with key industry players,” Jassem Mohamed Bu Ataba Alzaabi, Chairman of e&, said at a media briefing in Dubai.
On Friday, e& reported a net profit of Dh9.3 billion ($2.4 billion) in 2021, an increase of 3.2 per cent compared to the previous year. Its subscriber base grew 3 percent to 159 million subscribers in the MENA region, Pakistan and Africa.
In addition to “these stellar results,” Alzaabi said the group “has also been aggressive in its acquisition strategy and in its pursuit of strategic partnerships that are set to revolutionize the business landscape.”
“The digital revolution and its impact on the business world has given us ample confidence to expand even further through the business pillars,” he explained. He noted that the group is “in a privileged position” in the MENA region to capture regional growth opportunities while looking into markets beyond the region. He said e& possesses “an undisputed market position” across the MENA region with an Information Communication Technology (ICT) market size across the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, three of its key markets, expected to grow by more than 15 percent annually from 2020 to 2025.
Explaining the new business model of the group following its rebranding announcement last week, Alzaabi said while the first pillar, telecom, remains “the crown jewel” of our business with continued strong growth and planned expansion in new geographical areas, the group shall also focus and seize opportunities in the other business pillars.
The others are e& life, which will offer “next-gen digital world to the fingertips of its customers via a state-of-the art ‘super app’ marketplace.” The marketplace will provide customers with lifestyle services, from online food ordering and entertainment, through majority-owned platforms, to retail, mobility and finance. Then there is e& enterprise which will provide business and governments sectors with “comprehensive services” in consultancy, business modeling, solutions design, program management, execution, delivery and “post-implementation support” through Cloud, Cybersecurity, Internet of Things (IoT) , and Artificial Intelligence. Finally, there is e& capital, which will focus on “bringing a better, alternate future” by “investing in the ideas and people” to drive the company’s growth, Alzaabi said.
With a market capitalization of more than Dh74 billion, the group is now looking at ways to “create focussed digital units, building strong partnerships and exploring collaborative opportunities that would attract out-of-industry partners and investors,” Hatem Dowidar, Group CEO said .
While Alzaabi didn’t rule out the possibility to tap into credit facilities to finance future growth investments, Dowidar said the group would also pursue a policy of joint ventures and acquisitions to implement the new strategy while retaining control of the group’s units.
Strong financial performance
The UAE telecom giant e& (formerly Etisalat) dialed in a solid Dh9.3 billion as net profit for 2021, up from the Dh9 billion it had a year before. The company’s revenues too were up by the same margin, 3.2 per cent, to Dh53.3 billion from Dh51.7 billion.
The Board of Directors has proposed a dividend of 40 fils a share for second-half 2021, representing a total dividend payout of 80 fils a share for the full-year. As for its 2022 forecasts, e& states: “We are determined to stay agile and fit for the future. Our work is essential in bridging the gap between the telecom industry and what our customers need in the digital space.
Its UAE subscriber base is at 12.7 million as of end last year, while across all of the markets e& operates the numbers are at 159 million subscribers. This works out to a year-on-year increase of 3 per cent.
The switch to e& will have the Abu Dhabi headquartered company go aggressively into new markets as well as enter into categories that can build on its telecom and tech expertise. In a fast-expanding digital space in the UAE and wider region, e& wants to set the agenda through mergers and acquisitions, where needed.
The four-plillar strategy
*Telecoms will bolster the “strong” telecoms network and maximize value for its customer segments in the UAE and internationally.
* e& life aims to ramp up the digital services for individual customers to “elevate their digital-first lifestyle”. The division targets to bring next-gen technologies through smart connectivity platforms in entertainment, retail, mobility services and financial technology.
*e& enterprise will enable the digital transformation of governments, large-scale enterprises and corporates. It will focus on end-to-end solutions in cybersecurity, cloud, Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), as well as deploying mega-projects.
e& capital will allow the Group to focus efforts on driving new mergers and acquisitions while strengthening global presence.
Commenting on the pricing of the company’s service in the UAE, both Alzaabi and Dowidar said the prices are competitive considering the quality of the services, the strength of the infrastructure and the standard of living in the country.
“Compared to a country that size of the UAE and the high standard of living, our prices are fairly competitive and reasonable.”