MTNL submits bid for Sri Lankan telco

Written by Agencies | New Delhi, September 27: | Updated: Sep 27 2007, 19:57pm hrs
In what could be its first overseas takeover, state-run MTNL has submitted the bid for acquiring Sri Lankan fixed-line wireless operator Suntel.

The bid has been submitted in the range of USD 100-120 million and factored in a legal case of LKR (Sri Lankan rupee) four billion involving a customer, sources said.

Besides MTNL, the three other contenders in the fray for Suntel Malaysia Telekom are a consortium led by John Keells Holdings, an Indian party and the Tata controlled VSNL.

If MTNL acquires the company it will have a local partner, sources added.

Expecting the results of the bid to be out in the next 15 days, MTNL is hopeful its first acquisition could happen through the Sri Lankan company.

Suntel has three lakh subscribers and has NLD and ILD licenses. The acquisition, would give MTNL leverage on data services, fixed line and a host of corporate and SME customers.

Suntel is a privately-owned telecom operator, the medium-term debentures of which are listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange. The company operates on foreign shores like Nepal and Maldives on licences.

Suntel had recently said it has filed petition against Electrotek Network Services to recover LKR 69.3 million for telecom services rendered to the company but had been counter-sued for over LKR four billion for terminating telephonic service. The case has been fixed for trial, said Suntel.

Suntel has posted a net profit for the first half ending June 2007 at LKR 311 million. Its revenue rose to LKR 3.6 billion from LKR 3.3 billion in the first half of 2006.

MTNL shares were trading at Rs 165.85, up 1.44 per cent on BSE.