AsiaWatch: Indian Telcos Look to Africa

Investing in Africa is all the rage among carriers at the moment, with Indian operators particularly keen, it seems. (See Bharti, MTN Abandon $23B Merger and Reliance Dreams of Africa.)

Elsewhere it's results season, with the latest financials best described as a "mixed bag."

  • Eight companies, including state-owned Indian carriers Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL) , have been shortlisted by the Zambia Development Agency as prequalified bidders for a majority stake in national operator Zamtel Telecommunications Company Ltd. (See Zamtel Has 8 Bidders.)

    The other shortlisted bidders are: a partnership of Orascom Telecom and Telecel Globe Ltd. of Egypt; Portugal Telecom SGPS SA (NYSE: PT); Russia's Altimo Holdings and its carrier VimpelCom Ltd. (NYSE: VIP); South Africa's Telkom SA Ltd. (NYSE/Johannesburg: TKG); Unitel of Angola; and Libyan LAP Greencom Ltd. with LAP Green Networks.

    BSNL and MTNL aren't limiting their African interest to Zambia, though. They're about to start due diligence proceedings on Zain Group , which owns operators in Africa and the Middle East, reports Reuters. (See Zain's $13.7B Mystery Investors.)

    In addition, India's Business Standard newspaper reports that BSNL and MTNL are also looking at spectrum investments in Russia and Western Europe. (See Russia on the Rebound?.)

  • Sales promotion costs hit KDDI Corp. 's second-quarter profits, which dipped 25 percent to ¥58.87 billion (US$641 million). Japan's second biggest mobile operator reported slightly lower year-on-year consolidated revenues of ¥869.4 billion (US$9.46 billion), of which ¥665.2 billion (US$7.24 billion) came from telecoms services. It ended September with 31.23 million mobile and nearly 6 million fixed-line customers.

  • PT Indosat Tbk , Indonesia's second-largest mobile operator, saw its third-quarter revenues and subscriber numbers fall, but its profits rise, reports Reuters.

  • The National Telecommunication Commission of Thailand has set the reserve prices for 3G licenses -- 4.6 billion baht (US$137.6 million) for a 10 MHz band license, and THB5.2 billion (US$155.5 million) for a 15 MHz license, reports the Bangkok Post. It had been hoped the license auction would take place in December, but that timeline is now in jeopardy. (See Thailand Set for Broadband Surge .)

  • IT infrastructure and services firm Gemini Communications Ltd., ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763), Harris Stratex Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: HSTX), and Alvarion Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR) have submitted the four lowest bids to BSNL for the carrier's planned rollout of 7,000 WiMax base stations in rural areas, the Hindu Business Line reported. Each of the four lowest bidders are due to be awarded part of the deployment deal. The other bidders that didn't make the cut are Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. , Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and Samsung Corp.

    Other news from Asia/Pacific includes:

    — Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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