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DSL/vectoring/G.fast

Russia's Sistema Buys Into India

Russian conglomerate Sistema JSFC (London: SSA) has found a way into India, acquiring a 10 percent stake in regional fixed and mobile operator Sistema Shyam TeleServices Ltd. . (See Sistema Takes Shyam Stake.)

Sistema, which has interests in media, banking, and real estate business, also owns two Russian carriers -- Mobile TeleSystems OJSC (MTS) (NYSE: MBT) and Comstar United Telesystems JSC (London: CMST) -- as well as telecom equipment and OSS vendor JSC Sitronics (London: SITR).

Shyam Telelink provides fixed-line and CDMA-based mobile services in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It owns ISP Shyam Internet and has more than 4,000 kilometers of fiber optic cable.

Shyam is one of several regional operators that have applied for licenses to expand their networks nationwide and are ripe for consolidation.

Sistema will initially take a 10 percent stake in Shyam for $11.4 million and intends to boost its holding to 51 percent subject to approval from India's Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). That would value the investment at $58 million and the operator at $114 million.

The carrier has been up for sale for a while -- talks with KT Corp. fell through in April last year, while Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), and Telia Company have all expressed interest in acquiring a piece of the company. (See Shyam Soars on Relisting.)

Shares in parent firm Shyam Telecom Ltd. , a mobile equipment vendor, climbed as much as 20 percent Thursday, up 19.25 Indian rupees (US$0.48) to INR115.70 ($2.91).

Sistema has long been seeking ways to enter the Indian telecom market, mulling acquisitions and looking to set up an equipment manufacturing facility. Sistema was somewhere in the back of the line-up of companies that wanted to acquire Hutchison Essar, which was taken over by Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), and previously had to abandon a deal to acquire Aircel Ltd. , now part of Malaysia's Maxis Communications Bhd. . (See Vodafone Wins Battle to Buy Essar and Maxis Snaps Up Aircel.)

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

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