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MTNL revives bid to enter overseas markets

Mansi Taneja  |  New Delhi 

Growing competition and declining revenues in India have prompted state-run Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) to revive plans to enter overseas markets.

This move comes after the appointment of the company’s new chairman and managing director (CMD) Kuldip Singh.

The company’s former chairman R S P Sinha, who stepped down earlier this month, had publicly stated that the company had put its acquisition plans on hold. Singh was previously MTNL’s director (technical) and has been appointed CMD for three months.

An MTNL official said the company hopes to enter Africa by acquiring a new licence or buying an operator.

Last year, the operator had earmarked Rs 500 crore for overseas acquisitions. It had prequalified for Nigeria’s firm Nigeria Telecommunications Ltd (Nitel), and an official confirmed that MTNL will submit a bid on February 15.

On Friday, Nigeria postponed the bid deadline for Nitel to February 15 from January 22, after the 14 suitors for the fixed line operator and its subsidiaries asked for more time to submit their bids.

The Nigerian government had invited expressions of interest in July for a minimum 75 per cent stake in Nitel and each of its units, which include mobile arm MTEL, the South Atlantic Terminal Underwater cable and analogue cellular subsidiaries STAC and CDMA.

Apart from MTNL, the 14 pre-qualified investors include the Nigerian arms of South Africa’s MTN Group and Emirates Telecommunications Corp (Etisalat), a group involving Spain’s Telefonica and local firm Globacom.

MTNL already runs services in Mauritius and operates in Nepal via a joint venture, UTL.

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First Published: Wed, January 27 2010. 00:21 IST