IndiaWatch: Equity & Earnings

It's not like they didn't see it coming: India's Department of Telecommunications has ruled that investors that hold a stake larger than 10 percent in new Unified Access Services (UAS) license-holders can't sell for at least three years from the time the license was issued.

This means that the slew of international companies that have taken major stakes in India's mobile services startups can't take a quick profit by selling off their holdings right away.

The companies affected, including the likes of Bahrain Telecommunications Co. (Batelco) , Etisalat , NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM), Sistema JSFC (London: SSA), and Telenor Group (Nasdaq: TELN), knew this was coming, though: The lock-in recommendations were made public in March. (See IndiaWatch: Game-Changin' Days, Batelco Ups Stake in India's S Tel, and A Guide to India's Telecom Market.)

In other news from the ever-vibrant Indian market:

  • Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL) reported first-quarter revenues of 99.4 billion Indian Rupees ($2.06 billion), up more than 17 percent from a year earlier, and net income of INR25.2 billion ($522 million), 24.3 percent better than a year earlier. (See Bharti Airtel Reports Q1.)

    Airtel is India's biggest mobile operator, with almost 102.4 million GSM customers at the end of June, giving it a 24 percent market share. The carrier also has more than 2.8 million fixed line customers, of which 1.14 million have signed up for the operator's DSL-based broadband services.

    It's also looking to branch out overseas, and is still locked in merger talks with African carrier MTN Group Ltd. (See Bharti, MTN in $23 Billion Talks.)

    The carrier recently struck two key outsourcing deals: one with Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), for its fixed-line network, and one with Comviva Technologies Ltd. , for its mobile value-added-services (VAS) systems. (See India's Airtel Outsources Again and AlcaLu, Bharti Form Joint Venture.)

  • Idea Cellular Ltd. , India's fifth biggest mobile operator, with more than 41 million customers and a 10 percent market share, has reported fiscal first-quarter revenues (to the end of June) of INR30.2 billion ($626 million) and net income of INR3.1 billion ($65 million). (See BSNL Struggles for Subs in May.)

    IDEA, which recently announced a network upgrade deal with Nokia Networks , plans to invest INR60 billion ($1.24 billion) during the next two years on network expansion, according to this Business Standard report. (See IDEA Deploys NSN.)

    And elsewhere:

    — Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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