Friday, January 01, 2010

India - MTNL, a state-owned enterprise, has put off further foreign acquisitions

[business standard] State-run Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Ltd (MTNL) has put its overseas acquisition plans on the back burner for the time being as it decides to focus on improving its marketshare in Delhi and Mumbai — the only places where it operates.

“Right now we don’t have any plans ... I am concentrating on my in-house business more... We are doing very well in Nepal and Mauritius, which are going to fetch good revenues. It is not that we have all together stopped. For some time we are not very active,” MTNL CMD R S P Sinha said.

However, the New York Stock Exchange-listed company has expressed its desire to partner its big brother Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) in its overseas acquisition bids, especially in the emerging markets. The public sector unit (PSU) has a mobile subscriber base of 4.4 million and is eyeing 5 million before the fiscal-end.

“If BSNL is looking towards them (emerging markets) for acquisitions, we would also like to join them as a partner when they finally decide (on any target company). We tell them take us along with you as a partner,” he said.

BSNL has placed a bid for buying up to 75 per cent stake in Zambia’s lone fixed line operator Zamtel. In the past, MTNL had lost the bid to Kenya’s second national licence. After emerging as the preferred buyer for Sri Lanka’s Suntel, the PSU put the proposal on the back burner as valuation issues cropped up over some legal liabilities.

Asked if MTNL was going to approach BSNL formally over this, Sinha said: “Definitely, I can request them. If you have got any good offer and you feel MTNL can support you because we have got the experience of running the operations outside the country, we would like to join them.”

MTNL puts overseas acquisition on hold

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