MTNL sees bright future in Suntel, despite legal issue

28 Sep 2007

Indian state-run telco Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) has submitted a formal bid to acquire Sri Lankan fixed-wireless operator Suntel, in the range of USD100 million to USD120 million, factoring out liability costs related to an ongoing legal case involving a Suntel customer, according to Indian media reports. MTNL plans to form a partnership with a local company to launch services if its bid is successful, according to local sources. Companies lining up rival bids for Suntel are Indian international telecoms carrier VSNL, Telekom Malaysia and a consortium led by Sri Lanka’s John Keells Holdings. The result of the tender is expected in the next fortnight. Suntel posted a net profit of LKR311 million (USD2.74 million) for the first half ending June 2007, whilst revenues rose to LKR3.6 billion, up from LKR3.3 billion in the first half of 2006. Suntel offers fixed line services based on CDMA WiLL technology, and claimed around 300,000 WiLL lines in service at the end of March 2007. Nordic telco TeliaSonera is Suntel’s top shareholder with a 55% stake via holding vehicle Overseas Telecom. The remaining shares are held by Sri Lanka’s Metrocorp, the National Development Bank of Sri Lanka, Townsend Ltd of Hong Kong and International Finance Corporation.