Fascel To Invest Rs 300 Crore In Gujarat In 03-04

Mumbai: | Updated: Sep 30 2003, 05:30am hrs
Gujarats leading cellular service provider, the Hindujas-promoted Fascel, will invest about Rs 300 crore during the current fiscal. This investment will be towards enhancing its infrastructure in the Gujarat circle.

Senior officials in the company said that the monies would be raised by way of a combination of debt and internal accruals. We will be increasing the number of cell sites apart from investing in IT enhancement they said. At this stage, the operator has about 700 cell sites; these are used as the last mile access for wireless telephony to enhance voice clarity.

Gujarat is an A category circle and is considered a lucrative area of operation. According to Fascel officials, 85 per cent of the companys subscriber base is in the pre-paid category. Fascels subscriber base, as per data released by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) for August 2003, stands at 7.15 lakh. The other players in the circle are Idea Cellular, Bharti Cellular and the state-promoted Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL). Our revenue per user across pre-paid and post-paid is over Rs 600 per month, officials added.

Telecom major Hutchison Max holds a 49 per cent stake in Fascel while the Hindujas along with their subsidiaries account for 30 per cent.

Incidentally, Kotak Mahind-ra sold its 11 per cent stake in Fascel to Usha Martin for Rs 92 crore a couple of months ago. This effectively puts Fascel valuation at about Rs 840 crore.

This is significant since Hutchison is looking to consolidate its operations by merging its cellular circles. It is learnt that Hutchison will hold 49 per cent in the merged entity while the Essar group will hold about 34 per cent. While Kotak Mahindra will hold approximately 13 per cent, the balance four per cent stake will be held by the Hindujas. As reported earlier, the valuation exercise is in progress and is expected to be completed shortly.