Batelco exits India over 2G verdict

The fallout from the cancellation of 122 Indian 2G licenses continues, with Bahrain's Batelco following through on threats to exit the market, while Etisalat takes a 1.02 billion dirham (€209 million) charge on the revocation.
 
Batelco (Bahrain Telecommunications Co) has sold its entire 42.7% stake in India's STel to Indian partner Sky City Foundation. The Indian firm will pay 65.8 million Bahraini dinar (€131 million) for the stake – the same price Batelco paid when it bought into STel in 2009.
 
While Batelco states the sale agreement is “part of an earlier understanding with [Sky City] to exit, given the circumstances surrounding the 2G probe in India over the past twelve months,” group chief executive Shaikh Mohamed bin Isa Al Khalifa says the firm will continue to seek other investment opportunities “that will enable us to participate in the Indian telecom market.”
 
The UAE's Etisalat separately revealed it will book a 1.02 billion dirham impairment charge on the cancellation of 2G licenses held by Indian joint venture Etisalat DB.
 
The 2G licenses which S Tel and Etisalat DB received in a 2008 allocation - along with Videocon, Uninor, Swan Telecom, Loop, Idea, and Tata Teleservices - will be cancelled in June following a Supreme Court decision early February.
 

Telenor, which owns a stake in local operator Uninor, is also mulling an exit from India, as is Sistema, the joint owner of Indian carrier Sistema Shyam.

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