Regional Etisalat: Six key people

27 June 2008

The six most powerful people at the UAE-based telecoms operator: Mohammad Hassan Omran, Mohammad al-Qamzi, Jamal al-Jarwan, Khaled al-Kaf, Gamal Sadat and Salem Ali al-Sharhan.

Mohammad Hassan Omran

Position: Chairman, Etisalat

Biography: Etisalat Misr, the one-year-old telecoms subsidiary in Egypt, has been described as Mohammad Hassan Omran’s ‘baby’ by other executives at the company. The decision to invest $2.9bn in Egypt’s third mobile phone licence in May 2006 was one of Omran’s first after becoming chairman of Etisalat earlier that year. The telecoms giant made its key investment outside the UAE two years prior to Omran’s appointment. Etisalat’s purchase of the second mobile phone licence in Saudi Arabia for $3.5bn in 2004 was the foundation for its international expansion into Africa and Asia. Etihad Etisalat, the Saudi operation, made its first profit within 18 months of launching. Omran needs Etisalat Misr to be as big a success story as Etihad Etisalat. Power in Etisalat is split between Omran and chief executive officer (CEO) Mohammad al-Qamzi, with Omran taking responsibility for international markets.

Contact: (+9712) 618 2173

Mohammad al-Qamzi

Position: CEO, Etisalat

Biography: Although he is CEO of a company worth $32.6bn, Mohammad al-Qamzi’s role is largely limited to the development of the UAE domestic market. In this task, he has been hugely successful. The UAE generated revenues of AED13.5bn ($3.7bn) for Etisalat in 2007, 64 per cent of the group’s total revenues of AED21.3bn. Al-Qamzi also succeeding in his primary responsibility of turning those revenues into profits. Etisalat generated twice the net profits of its rival Zain, the acquisitive Kuwaiti telecoms operator, with $2bn in net profits for 2007, compared with Zain’s $1bn. In part, Al-Qamzi’s task has been made easier by the UAE authorities. When the government decided to end Etisalat’s monopoly in 2006, it awarded a second licence to start-up firm Du. If it had held an open competition, Etisalat may have found itself up against one of its more established regional rivals in its home market.

Contact: (+9712) 618 2173

Jamal al-Jarwan

Position: CEO, Etisalat International Investments

Biography: Jamal al-Jarwan is regarded as Etisalat’s main conduit for the exchange of information with the outside world, including its investors. As CEO of Etisalat International Investments, he works on the company’s expansion plans, reporting to chairman Mohammad Hassan Omran. In interviews, Al-Jarwan frequently answers questions about Etisalat’s plans for specific countries, rather than his chairman. It was Al-Jarwan who said that Etisalat would be interested in building a stake in Omantel when the Omani government finally reduces its holding in the company. It was also Al-Jarwan who went to Iran earlier this year to find out what Etisalat would have to do to buy the third mobile licence or acquire a stake in state-owned operator Telecommunications Company of Iran. In July, Al-Jarwan will visit Syria at a time when the Syrian government is planning to auction a new licence.

Contact: (+9712) 618 2173

Khaled al-Kaf

Position: CEO, Etihad Etisalat

Biography: Khaled al-Kaf has overseen Etihad Etisalat from the day it won Saudi Arabia’s second mobile phone licence in 2004. He was appointed start-up project manager by Etisalat head office in Abu Dhabi. Al-Kaf, a UAE national who has worked for Etisalat since 1987, was promoted to CEO in July 2005, just two months after the firm launched mobile phone services. Al-Kaf’s background is in engineering rather than finance. His last job at Etisalat in the UAE was as general manager of network services. His entire career in the UAE was spent in operations, where he built his knowledge of networking technology working alongside Etisalat’s main sup-pliers, including French infrastructure group Alcatel and Japanese technology business Fujitsu. Al-Kaf faces a new challenge this year as the firm is forced to release the number of active customers it services every quarter.

Contact: (+9712) 618 2173

Gamal Sadat

Position: Chairman, Etisalat Misr

Biography: Etisalat’s choice of a chairman for its Egyptian operation was a popular one. Gamal Sadat is the son of Egypt’s third president, Anwar Sadat, who was murdered on 6 October 1981 by a soldier on military parade. Gamal became a lawyer specialising in litigation the year after his father’s murder. He worked for Al-Kamel Law Office in 6 October City for most of his career. He exchanged legal practice for corporate management, joining Etisalat’s new operation in Egypt, Etisalat Misr, in 2006. Sadat is politically influential despite never having held a senior government position. On the 25th anniversary of Anwar Sadat’s assassination, he led the commemoration alongside the current president’s son, Gamal Mubarak. His influence has not stopped the telecoms ministry from demanding quarterly financial updates from mid-2008, something that Etisalat has been determined to resist.

Contact: (+9712) 618 2173

Salem Ali al-Sharhan

Position: Chief financial officer (CFO), Etisalat

Biography: Salem Ali al-Sharhan is the most powerful of a handful of managers who were made heads of the most important functions at Etisalat in 2006. Al-Sharhan controls the budgets for chief marketing officer Essa Haddad and chief operating officer Ahmed Abdulkarim Julfar. Haddad is in charge of Etisalat’s sales and Julfar has to deliver the services, both fixed-line and mobile. Al-Sharhan’s two years in charge have been noticeable for Etisalat’s increased willingness to embrace the debt markets. Shortly after becoming CFO in 2006, he arranged a revolving debt facility with US bank Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and UK banks Barclays and HSBC. He is currently working with three global ratings agencies to provide Etisalat with its first ever debt ratings. Al-Sharhan also gave the firm’s first ever briefing to analysts in Egypt earlier this year, revealing the performance of its subsidiaries for the first time.

Contact: (+9712) 618 2173

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