Malaysia’s Maxis Communications is the latest company believed to be mulling the acquisition of Indian cellco Spice Telecom, one of the country’s last remaining regional operators. According to Times of India, Standard Charted Bank is advising Maxis on the possible transaction. Earlier this month consulting firm KPMG was tasked with finding a strategic investor to take a majority stake in Spice, currently 51% owned by the Modi Group; in October 2005 Hong Kong-based Distacom sold its 49% stake in Spice to Ashmore Investment Management and Deutsche Bank. Created in 1997 and operating in the Punjab and Karnataka circles, where it competes with Bharti, Hutchison and BSNL, Spice offers pre- and post-paid GSM call plans aimed largely at the youth market. It is one of the few operators in the country to concentrate solely on the same markets that it originally launched in, and has not announced plans to expand to other regions.
Earlier this month Malaysia’s Maxis acquired Indian GSM operator Aircel for USD1.08 billion, fighting off a rival bid from Telekom Malaysia to take control of the Chennai-based cellco. Telekom has also been linked with a bid for Spice.