Etisalat remains silent over unconfirmed media reports that the UAE's largest telecom could witness the imminent departure of its top official.
Etisalat Chairman Mohammad Hassan Omran — one of the long-standing driving forces behind years of growth for the company — is reported to be mulling retirement and could vacate his position by year's end.
Omran didn't return phone calls or an e-mail placed by Gulf News by press time Tuesday. Etisalat officials reached Tuesday declined comment.
Media outlets, meanwhile, speculated that Omran was leaving and that a move was under way to install a new group CEO for etisalat.
Unnamed sources told a local business magazine that some form of announcement was expected this week to lay down plans by etisalat to shuffle senior managers.
Any departure by Omran would mark the end of three decades of service during which he filled a variety of roles before assuming the chairman's seat in 2005.
Omran pointed the way for etisalat as it entered new markets and undertook a number of new expansions into Asia and Africa to the point that company now has operations in 18 countries.
With Omran at the helm, etisalat has invested heavily in telecom operators in Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and West Africa.
Matthew Reed, a Dubai-based analyst with Informa Telecoms & Media, told Gulf News that word of Omran's unconfirmed departure comes amid declining numbers for etisalat.
"Etisalat had some problems lately; profits were down, revenue in the UAE market has been declining and there is competition from du," Reed said.
"If it is true that Omran is leaving, it suggests the possibility that the company is going through some significant self examination and reordering of the ranks."
Losing some ground
Despite major strides in recent years, stiffening competition in the UAE has seen etisalat lose some ground to du which recently announced in its second quarter earnings that it acquired 171,000 new customers.
In its second quarter report, etisalat reported a 14.9 per cent decline in net profit to Dh1.59 billion, down from Dh1.87 billion during the same period last year.
Etisalat said it has 7.5 million mobile subscribers, 1.1 million fixed lined subscribers and 1.4 million internet subscribers at the end of June this year.
In a surprise move earlier this month, etisalat announced that it is waiving Wasel renewal charges giving its mobile subscribers lifetime use of their phone numbers.