January 20, 2017
Bahrain Telecommunications Co. (Batelco) has invested $225 million in India-based GSM start up S Tel Ltd.
Batelco, which owns mobile operations in six Middle Eastern countries, announced the investment on Sunday, which gives it a 49% stake in S Tel.
The investment is Batelco’s first outside the Middle East.
In January last year, S Tel was awarded licenses to operate GSM services in six ‘C’ circles in the far north and north-east of India – Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, North East, and Orissa.
It has yet to launch any services.
S Tel’s areas have a mobile penetration rate of less than 20% amidst a population of 230 million.
S-Tel director Santosh Robert said: “We will focus on delivering innovation and value, and aspire to grow rapidly to respond to the needs of these largely untapped areas.”
The news follows a series of acquisitions by Gulf-based operators.
Last week, Emirates Telecommunications Corp ETEL.AD announced plans to invest at least $1 billion building a new mobile network in Iran.
Qatar Telecommunications Co QTEL.QA said at the weekend it plans to increase its 65% stake in Indonesia’s PT Indosat.
Saudi Telecom, meanwhile, is the only bidder for Bahrain’s third mobile operator license.