TOKYO (Reuters) - NTT DoCoMo Inc, Japan's biggest mobile phone carrier, is set to announce a plan to buy a stake in India's sixth-ranked carrier Tata Teleservices on Wednesday, Japan's Sankei newspaper said.
Business Standard newspaper in September reported that DoCoMo was in talks to take 25 percent of Tata, part of the Tata Group conglomerate and parent of Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd, for $1.5 billion.
DoCoMo said in a statement that it had not made any such decision.
It would be the latest of a series of DoCoMo's overseas investments as the Japanese carrier looks for growth outside the mature domestic market. It would also give the Japanese carrier a foothold in the world's fastest-growing wireless market.
India, with more than 300 million mobile users, is the second-largest wireless market in the world after China, and still has the potential for further huge growth as just over a quarter of its 1.1 billion population use cellphones now.
Research firm Gartner has forecast India's mobile user base will more than double to 737 million by 2012. Japan currently has some 109 million mobile subscribers, about 85 percent of the population.
DoCoMo also aims to provide third-generation (3G) technologies and other advanced services such as Web browsing and electronic payment through its investment in Tata, Sankei said, as carriers in India at the moment provide only 2G services.
But it could still face tough competition because India plans an auction of radio waves for 3G and 4G wireless services this year and could invite foreign firms like AT&T Inc to enter the market.
Tata's bigger rivals, including Bharti Airtel, Reliance Communications, Vodafone Essar and TM International backed Idea Cellular, are also not likely to cede their territory easily.
Shares in DoCoMo were down 0.8 percent at 156,400 yen as of 0130 GMT, against a 1.6 percent fall in the Nikkei average.
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