14 Jun 2009, 1159 hrs IST, PTI on www.economictimes.com
NEW DELHI: BSNL has dropped its plans to bid for telecom licence in Tunisia as the PSU finds the returns not enough to enter that market through bidding of licence.
“We did not bid for Tunisia… we did not find returns on our investment,” a senior BSNL official said.
Earlier the PSU’s CMD Kuldeep Goyal had said BSNL was planning to bid for telecom licence in Tunisia and get a footprint in the African market, which has immense potential.
But not bidding for Tunisia does not mean BSNL has lost sight of the potential of the African region, which it says has growing mobile usage.
BSNL official said the minimum bid price was understood to be $10 million but the Tunisian market is well- penetrated with 80 per cent of the population owing mobile phones leaving not much scope for more penetration.
BSNL has shortlisted eight consultants, including Ernst & Young, McKinsey, KPMG and PriceWaterHouseCoopers, for its plans of mergers and acquisitions, strategic partnerships and overseas forays.
The state-run firm, which so far concentrated only on the Indian market (except Delhi and Mumbai), has decided to expand overseas. Sources said BSNL has a cash surplus of over $10 billion and would use part of these resources for its overseas foray.
After being denied entry to Delhi and Mumbai, BSNL was finally granted permission by the government to venture outside the country through acquisitions, JVs and licence buys to expand.
BSNL has already set up a separate international business division to explore telecom opportunities abroad.
Last year, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications entered into negotiations with the South Africa-based telecom giant MTN to expand in the African continent, but the talks failed. Bharti again has revived talks with MTN for a cash- cum-stock acquisition.
Earlier this year, Tata Communications announced plans to expand its operations in Africa through acquisitions, joint ventures, and new projects, and in January increased its stake in South African fixed-line operator Neotel to 56 per cent.
BSNL’s sister concern MTNL has already forayed into Nepal and Mauritius. Analysts said BSNL may be exploring the possibilities of bidding for mobile licences in Egypt, Rwanda, Malawi, Turkey and Iran. All these countries will open bids for licence auction within the next couple of months.