Business - Loop Telecom starts talks with Zain,Telenor
Kuwait-based Zain Telecom and Norway telcom giant Telenor have started negotiations with Mumbai-based Loop Telecom, a fully-owned subsidiary of BPL Mobile, for a strategic stake.It is not clear, however, whether the two players are considering a majority stake or would be content as investors with 26 per cent.BPL Mobile is controlled by the Ruias (part of the steel-to-shipping Essar group) and their associates and operates GSM mobile services in Mumbai. Loop Telecom is one of the seven operators to receive a licence for pan-Indian mobile operations in 21 circles and has received start-up spectrum in six circles. The Essar group is also a partner in India’s fourth-largest mobile services company Vodaphone-Essar.An Essar group spokesperson declined to comment on the issue.With a subscriber base of 45.7 million, Zain Telecom operates in 22 countries covering West Asia (Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon) and sub-Saharan Africa (such as Sudan).The telecom major has a turnover of $3.48 billion. As part of its vision for 2011, Zain wants to expand operations in adjacent markets (like India) and build a subscriber base of over 110 million to become one of the world’s top ten mobile operators.Telenor, the world’s seventh-largest telecom company, has also been one of the first European entrants in the latest rush of foreign companies in the Indian telecom sector. With a subscriber base of 143 million, it has global revenues of $17 billion.Industry sources said over six international companies had been looking at seriously investing in the Indian telecom sector and had approached most of the leading domestic players that recently received licence, which include Unitech, S-tel, Datacom Solutions, Swan Telecom, among others. The international companies on the prowl include Qatar Telecom, Etilasat, Bahrain Telecom and Russian major Altimo.