ABU DHABI, October 18, 2009 (AFP) – Gulf telecoms giant Etisalat said on Sunday that net profit dropped 4.7 percent in the nine months to September after a one-time gain had boosted year earlier figures. Net profit fell to 6.85 billion dirhams (1.87 billion dollars) from 7.19 billion dirhams (1.96 billion dollars) a year ago, when the company banked 892 million dirhams (243 million dollars) from the sale of a stake in Saudi telecoms company Mobily.

Excluding the exceptional gain, Etisalat’s net profit jumped nine percent as sales climbed to 22.107 billion dirhams (6.02 billion dollars) from 20.80 billion dirhams (5.67 billion dollars) in the first three quarters of 2008.

Etisalat (Emirates Telecommunications Corp) said it is studying expansion opportunities “in some markets across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the wider Arab world.”

It already operates in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East as well as owning stakes in companies across Asia and Africa.

“At this time, Etisalat is unlikely to look at European countries due to the lack of growth opportunities and limited openings there,” the company said.

Etisalat said on Saturday it has bought Tigo Sri Lanka, a unit of Milli