Sistema still committed to India

Dylan Bushell-Embling
12 Nov 2012

Russian conglomerate Sistema hasn't given up on the Indian mobile market, despite not applying to take part in an auction to win back the spectrum joint venture Sistema Shyam will need to operate.

Sistema Shyam's omission from a list of five companies applying to take part in upcoming spectrum auctions had left some speculating that Sistema planned to exit the market.

But Sistema Shyam CEO Vsevolod Rozanov toldPress Trust of India that the company is relying on its legal challenges to have its spectrum returned.

Sistema Shyam's 21 CDMA licenses, along with 101 other circle-specific licenses awarded in 2008, were cancelled in a February court order. The court found that former telecom minister A Raja acted illegally while allocating them.

Sistema Shyam has petitioned India's Supreme Court to hear an appeal to the cancellation, claiming it had been unfairly penalized in the decision.

The operator has also taken issue with the government's 45.5 billion rupee ($815.3 million) minimum price for pan-Indian 800-MHz spectrum – around 11 times higher than the prices charged in 2008.

Parent Sistema has previously threatened to pursue international arbitration against India if the court does not agree to hear its curative plea.

Rozanov added that Sistema Shyam hasn't ruled out pursuing acquisitions to gain the licenses needed to continue operating.

As a CDMA operator, Sistema Shyam would have been the only bidder for 800-MHz CDMA licenses. Without any participants, the CDMA part of the auction will probably need to be cancelled.

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