Batelco exits India after 2G verdict

Dylan Bushell-Embling
10 Feb 2012

The fallout from the cancellation of 122 Indian 2G licenses continues, with Bahrain's Batelco following through with threats to exit the market, while Etisalat takes a nearly $280 million charge.

Batelco (Bahrain Telecommunications Co) has sold its entire 42.7% stake in India's STel for 65.8 million Bahraini dinar ($174.5 million), the company has announced.

The sale to its Indian partner, Sky City Foundation, is at the same price for which Batelco bought into S Tel in 2009.

Batelco has stated that the sale agreement has been reached as “a part of an earlier understanding with [Sky City] to exit, given the circumstances surrounding the 2G probe in India over the past twelve months.”

The UAE's Etisalat separately revealed it will book a 1.02 billion dirham ($277.7 million) impairment charge, in anticipation of the impact of the cancellation of the 2G licenses held by Indian joint venture Etisalat DB.

The 2G licenses which S Tel and Etisalat DB received in a 2008 allocation - along with licenses received by Videocon, Uninor, Swan Telecom, Loop, Idea, and Tata Teleservices - will be cancelled in June following a Supreme Court decision last week.

The verdict has caught those operators which entered the market through the allocation - including S Tel and Etisalat DB - in a bind. In frustration, Batelco on Monday threatened to exit the marke as a result.

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