Global Economics

Foreign Investors Eyeing India's Tata Teleservices


South Korea Telecom, NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, and China Unicom are among those interested in buying part of the company

Interest is once again brewing in the global strategic investor circles to buy into Tata Teleservices, the Tata group telecom arm.

Major CDMA operators like South Korea Telecom, NTT DoCoMo, KDDI of Japan and China Unicom, among others, have been keen on picking up a stake in the company, industry sources said.

Though there is no official confirmation on the names, industry sources said these players are keen to have a toehold in the Indian telecom market through such strategic investments.

In early 2000s, the Tatas were actively looking to bring a foreign partner into Tata Teleservices.

But the deal did not materialize due to various factors such as valuation and control in the company. The other reason revolved around some foreign players wanting restrictive covenants in the shareholders' agreement, or veto rights, in case of a minority stake.

Since such talks fell through, the Tatas decided to settle for financial investors like NRI businessman C Sivasankaran and the Singapore government-owned Temasek.

When contacted, a Tata Teleservices spokesperson said, "While TTSL continues to seek appropriate and value-enhancing opportunities that meet its overall business objectives, as a policy, the company doesn't comment on any market speculation."

According to sources, the reason for roping in an investor is primarily funds. Sources added that the telecom venture continues to be capital intensive and is yet to become profitable.

Provided by Telecom Asia—Copyright: © 2006 Questex Media Group, Inc. > All right reserved.

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