In its transition from a telecommunications company to a technology-driven one, e& enterprise (formerly Etisalat Digital) is looking to expand its operations across several key markets, with an IPO not ruled out to fund future growth, a top executive said.

Speaking at a media roundtable on the sidelines of GITEX Global, CEO Salvador Anglada spoke about diversifying out of the UAE and away from the company’s core business.

“One of the ways the company has been structured will allow [us to] eventually IPO the business. There is no conversation today, but it will eventually come, [and] it will allow us to grow faster and expand into other markets. It is a possibility.”

Anglada said the company was actively looking at more mergers and acquisition or joint ventures.

“We are always looking for full acquisition or control with potential of full acquisition in two-three years. We strive to keep the founders onboard as its important for us to retain the talent. We keep structure as is because some acquisitions are big enough. Areas we are looking at is on the business applications side as we don’t have such capabilities.”

Over the past few years, e& enterprise has entered a joint venture (JV) with the South Korean company Bespin Global, a cloud managed service provider, followed by acquiring a majority stake in Beehive, MENA’s peer-to-peer digital platform to tap into opportunities in the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) lending market.

“We changed our strategy two years ago, from Etisalat to e&, to become a global tech group. We divided our company into different verticals, with the e& enterprise functioning to maximise the needs of our customers. We design, deliver, and operate digital solutions, using different digital technologies,” he said.

Anglada said the company under him was growing “quite fast”, with “high double digits” growth.

Independent entity

“We are expanding as a regional player in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and tomorrow, it will be in different countries and not necessarily in the footprint of the telco as we work as an independent entity.”

Aside from the GCC, the company’s expansion plans include Africa and Eastern Europe based on “potential and maturity of the market,” the CEO said.

Anglada said that the verticals under the e& enterprise umbrella, which includes cloud services, Help AG, IoT and AI, can all work independently from each other when entering a new market.

“…Because we are not expanding with the same footprint of the telco, it means we can go to markets where we see potential and opportunities and aren’t obligated otherwise. When bidding for a tender, we can work as individuals or create a comprehensive value proposition with different verticals under the brand,” Anglada added.

Funding for the expansion would come from the telecom entity, which Anglada said, has a cash flow generation that is “quite heavy.”

“Our financial profile allows us to leverage and get some debt, which is quite sustainable for funding future expansion,” he added.

In May, e& reported Q1 2023 consolidated net profit of 2.2 billion dirhams ($599  million).

(Reporting by Bindu Rai, editing by Brinda Darasha)