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BPL Mobile set for 49% strategic stake sale

Our Corporate Bureau  |  Mumbai 

is close to having a in the company or in its holding company, "within the next few weeks". Subsequently, the company also intends to enter the capital market with an (IPO).
Sandip Basu, president and chief executive officer, Group, told mediapersons here today that, "we are in talks with several strategic partners to offload our stake in the company. Discussions are in fairly progressive stage."
While refusing to divulge who the will be, Basu did not deny that the company was in talks with investors like Hutchison-Essar, and added that Vodafone is equally interested.
He said the group was willing to offer equity stake in as well as
"We are looking at companies who are long-term players and not financial investors who have a short-term perspective. We are open to offering up to 49 per cent to the strategic partner," Basu said.
At present, holds a 74 per cent stake in and is a wholly owned company.
Essar Teleholdings has already picked up 9.9 per cent equity in following the exit of France from the company. France held 26 per cent equity.
It sold the balance to a European fund called Asia Pacific. As Essar already has presence in Mumbai circle through Hutchison-Essar, it will not be allowed to hold more than 10 per cent equity in as per regulations.
Basu said, "We are looking at the strategic investor for investment and direction to get aggressive in the market. The money brought in by the strategic investor will partly go to the holding company (BPL Communications), partly be used to retire some debt as well as for inorganic growth." has a debt burden of Rs 500 crore, while has a debt burden of Rs 1,200 crore.
Meanwhile, today launched 'project rapid growth' and plans to invest Rs 625 crore in 2005-06. Basu said, "Last year was the most successful year . Growth was at its best, our revenues grew by 39 per cent to Rs 1012.2 crore and operating profits by 35 per cent to Rs 406.6 crore. We are cash flow positive. We are investing in technology, coverage of networks and capacity enhancement. The company will invest half of Rs 625 crore in Mumbai circle."
Under the project rapid growth the company expects an increase in its revenues to Rs 1,300 crore and operating profits to Rs 650 crore in 2005-06. The company will add 225 new towns to its existing coverage of 207 markets with coverage extended to 'c' class towns, install two MSCs, two intelligent networks to its existing set up of 9 MSCs and 4 intelligent networks and add over 800 base stations.
Krishna Angara, executive vice president, business operations, said, 'The project rapid growth follows successful implementation of operation accelerated claw back last year. We added half a million subscribers last year and we intend to add another 1.5 million to our subscriber base Our target is to achieve a revenue of Rs 1,300 crore with of Rs 650 crore with a 35 per cent of new GSM market share."
In his presentation, Angara pointed out that the company will continue particularly on superior network and latest


First Published: Tue, April 26 2005. 00:00 IST