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Du Open to MVNO Expansion Opportunities, Studying Saudi Arabia

May 13 (Bloomberg) -- Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Co., known as Du, is studying the possibility of expanding to Saudi Arabia as a mobile virtual network operator, the Chief Executive Officer said.

“We are open to any opportunity in the changing world of telecom,” said Osman Sultan in a phone interview today. “We keep our eyes open and in this respect we are looking at any opportunity including MVNOs in any country. We study this but no decision has been taken so far.”

As neighboring Saudi Arabia plans to issue three MVNO licenses this year, Du is “looking at” that opportunity, the CEO said. It is “premature to comment, even if we decide to bid or not” he said. “We are studying that, like we will study any other opportunities.” MVNO operators do not have their own telecommunications infrastructure and typically rely on other carriers’ networks to serve customers.

Du has been focused on its home market, the United Arab Emirates since operations began in 2007. It has not changed its stance on entering new markets as a “full-fledged telecom operator,” Sultan said, adding there was no time frame for when the company might venture abroad.

Du competes with Emirates Telecommunications Corp., also known as Etisalat, and has gained market share in the U.A.E., the second-biggest Arab economy, since 2007.

Du shares closed 2.6 percent lower today, giving the company a market value of 13.9 billion dirhams ($3.8 billion). The stock has gained 5.5 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tamara Walid in Abu Dhabi at twalid@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net

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