India Looks West

11:00 AM -- As European and North American companies size up the opportunities in the rapidly expanding Indian market, so Indian companies are looking to invest overseas to give themselves an even greater market opportunity.

There's plenty of business to be had in India -- that much is evident here in Delhi, where EuroBlog has been this week.

The major fixed-line carriers, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd. (MTNL) , are investing heavily to build up their broadband customer bases, which in total stand at a very low 2 million, and launch new services such as IPTV. (See BSNL Preps for IPTV and MTNL's IPTV Sparks Regulatory Debate.)

And the mobile operators are adding millions of new subscribers every month and investing billions of dollars in network expansion plans, while alternative wireless technologies are also being depolyed. (See India Mobile Subs Soar in 2006, Reliance Plans $7B GSM Build-Out, Ericsson, Nokia Bid Low for BSNL, and Google Earth Mash-Up Helps Mesh Mumbai.)

That means there's plenty of business for the international vendors, as, in a country of more than 1 billion people, there's still plenty of growth left in the market.

But Indian firms aren't just concentrating on their domestic opportunities. While companies like optical vendor Tejas Networks India Ltd. are looking to ramp up overseas sales, there is even talk of some Indian companies looking to take stakes in established international telecom players.

German business magazine Focus, for example, has reported that India's Tata Group -- home to a number of telecom players, such as Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. , Tata Teleservices Ltd. , and international carrier Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (VSNL) (NYSE: VSL) -- is in talks to buy a stake in T-Systems International GmbH , the unit of Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) that provides all manner of telecom and IT services to corporate customers.

Not only that, but Focus says Tata is not the first company to run its eyes over T-Systems' numbers, as rival Indian outfits Infosys Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: INFY) and Wipro Ltd. have already taken a look at the German outfit, which is struggling to keep pace with its main international rivals, BT Global Services and Orange Business Services (formerly Equant).

Wipro has already shown that it's inclined to international expansion through M&A activity, and it wouldn't be surprising to see some of India's other leading integration services, applications development, and outsourcing companies buy their way into the global marketplace. (See Wipro Sweeps Across Europe, Wipro Buys US Integrator, Wipro Acquires NewLogic, and Who Does What: Outsourcing to India.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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