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Batelco exits India

Bahraini operator group Batelco has announced the sale of its stake in India’s STel, in the wake of the circumstances surrounding the country’s 2G scandal.

The operator claimed that it had been looking for a buyer for its share in the Indian carrier long before the Supreme Court of India’s ruling last week to cancel 122 spectrum licences awarded in a 2008 spectrum sale.

Keen to distance itself from the current controversies Batelco pointed to a statement from April 2011 that it was, “actively pursuing the sale of this investment” and a note in its financial accounts for the quarter ending 30 June 2011, in which it categorised its investment in STel as an “asset held-for-sale”.

“BMIC Limited, a 100 per cent Batelco-owned subsidiary company, entered into an agreement, in the fourth quarter of 2011 to sell its 42.7 per cent equity in STel for BD65.8m ($ 174.5m) to its Indian partner, Sky City Foundation Limited.” said Shaikh Mohamed bin Isa Al Khalifa, Batelco’s group chief executive.

The company acquired its stake in STel via two transactions in May and June 2009 for a total of $ 174.5M, the same price for which it is being sold. The sale is expected to be completed in October 2012.

However, Batelco intends to re-enter the Indian market after the sale and said that it is open to other opportunities later down the line.

“As Batelco continues to grow and diversify its operations, we remain interested in other investment opportunities for the Batelco Group that will enable us to participate in the Indian telecom market. We are actively exploring all options in this respect over the coming months,” added Mohamed.

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