Details of Etisalat's plans for further regional and international expansion will be released in due course, according to a statement from its chairman, Dr Mohammad Khalfan bin Kharbash.

"The corporation's historic success in consortium with six Saudi partners in outbidding international and regional telecom players to win the second GSM licence in Saudi Arabia is an indication of our ambitious plans to expand into regional and international markets," said Bin Kharbash.

"Today Etisalat is one of the most successful companies in the region with a market capitalisation of more than Dh56.4 billion. It is widely acknowledged to be one of the world's leading telecom companies.

"Etisalat is a much sought after partner in the global telecom market due to our first class human capital, technological prowess and substantial heritage of providing our customers with an enhanced communications experience.

"Our success in the Saudi market validates Etisalat's vision to be the driving force for change in the sector and continue to be our customers' first choice for all their media, information and communications needs."

In addition to its 35 per cent stake in Ettihad Etisalat, its newest venture in Saudi Arabia, the corporation has substantial investments in Thuraya, and minor investments in telecom companies in Qatar, Sudan and Zanzibar.

Currently, it is looking at other key prospects in international markets, which have high subscriber and revenue growth potential.

Clarifying the roles played by international and regional banks in the world's largest Islamic financing transaction of $2.35 billion to partly fund Ettihad Etisalat's financial requirement, Mohammad Hassan Omran, acting president and chief executive of Etisalat, said: "The Murabaha transaction involves nine mandated lead arrangers (MLA) which comprise of Saudi, regional and International financial institutions.

"These are Samba Financial Group, National Commercial Bank , Al-Rajhi Banking and Investment Corporation, Bank AlJazira, Citigroup, Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank, Kuwait Financial House and Emirates Bank.

"Samba Financial Group and The National Commercial Bank acted as local book runners in Saudi Arabia while Citigroup and Emirates Bank were international book runners."

The top four underwriting commitments were from Samba Financial Group, The National Commercial Bank, Al Rajhi Banking and Investment Corp and Citigroup.

The $2.35 billion Murabaha transaction will partly fund the $3.45 billion licence fees.

The balance will be met through an initial public offering (IPO) at a date to be announced shortly, in addition to the consortium members' equity contribution.