Posts filed under ‘Batelco’
Saudi Telecom company (STC) has won Bahrain’s third mobile network operating licence with a bid of BHD86.7 million (USD231 million), the country’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) announced yesterday, breaking the duopoly of state-run Batelco and Kuwaiti-owned Zain. According to Reuters, STC plans to launch its Bahraini operations in the second half of this year and aims to acquire a 20% market share in ten years. The Saudi telco has also committed itself to establishing a USD300 million venture capital fund in Bahrain that will nurture communications and IT companies in the region. Three other firms had registered interest in the auction, but did not bid. Mohammed al-Amer, chairman of the TRA, confirmed that these were Bahraini operators 2Connect and Mena Telecom alongside a consortium including France Telecom subsidiary Jordan Telecom. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have strong links, as several million people cross a causeway linking the two kingdoms every year.
The Indian telecom story is gaining muscle. The latest to join the world’s second largest telecom market is Bahrain’s Batelco which has signed a deal to buy 49% in Chennai-based S-Tel, a GSM service provider, for $225 million.
The Indian telecom company has licences to operate in six circles in Bihar, Orissa, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, North East and Assam.
Santosh Robert, director, S-Tel, said the deal would enable his company to partner with an experienced operator for the GSM roll-out which is slated for the middle of this year.
Batelco has partnered with Millennium Private Equity (MPE), a Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA)-regulated entity to form Batelco Millennium India Company Ltd (BMICL) a special purpose vehicle to purchase the shares in S Tel. The transaction would go in for formal approvals and it is expected to become operational upon receiving regulatory approval by the end of April this year.
S-Tel was established to gain entry into the rapidly growing mobile markets of north east and north-west India. The population in these areas is approximately 230 million and mobile penetration rate is less than 20%. “We will focus on delivering innovation and value, and aspires to grow rapidly to respond to the needs of these largely untapped areas,” Robert said.
Besides, Batelco being a mid-sized operator has a medium appetite for investment found S-Tel very attractive. “They were clear that they did not want to invest in a pan-India operator, instead were looking at a smaller company to invest, which is where we fit in very well,” Robert said.
S-Tel is a Chennai-based company promoted by Skycity Foundations (P) Ltd and Telecom Investments, Mauritius. The company received unified access services licenses (UASL) and start-up spectrum in six category C circles, besides a category A all India internet service provider (ISP) licence.
Other major telecom deals include NTT DoCoMo’s 26% stake buy in Tata Tele for $2.70 billion, Etilasat’s 45% equity purchase in Swan Telecom for $900 million and Telenor’s buy of 60% in Unitech Wireless for $1.23 billion.