Bahrain’s principal fixed line carrier, Batelco, said Monday that it has acquired a 49 per cent stake in Indian mobile operator S Tel, via a joint venture with a Dubai-based private equity firm.
Batelco, which is majority owned by the Bahrain government, partnered with Millenium Private Equity to form the Batelco Millennium India Company, which bought up just shy of 50 per cent of S Tel for $225m.
S Tel recently established mobile operations in India, after obtaining spectrum to operate in six Category ‘C’ circles. Finalisation of the spectrum purchase is subject to preconditions but completion of the deal is expected by the end of the first quarter.
Batelco chief executive Peter Kaliaropoulos said the acquisition would provide significant growth opportunities for Batelco in the expanding Indian market, where mobile penetration is growing at 9 million to 10 million subscribers a month.
“We explored a number of investment opportunities in India and S Tel was judged to be the most suitable investment for Batelco’s entry into the Indian telecommunications market. Our priority now is to assist S Tel to rapidly roll out network infrastructure and offer mobile services to customers,” said Kaliaropoulos.