Russian conglomerate Sistema is planning to create a pan-Indian telecoms operator, according to its president Alexander Goncharuk. ‘We want to build a pan-Indian operator that would be ranked among the market’s leaders,’ Goncharuk told Reuters in an interview. ‘We have ambition and resources, as we are acting together with a local partner which invests in it pro rata.’ In September Sistema bought 10% of Indian telco Shyam Telelink and signed an agreement in October to buy a further 41%. It also has a call option for another 23%. ‘We will raise (our stake) to 51% as soon as we can, I think before the end of the year,’ Goncharuk said. The overall purchase price of the 51% stake will be USD58.1 million, of which Sistema has already paid USD11.4 million for the 10%.
Goncharuk said Shyam Telelink, which currently provides CDMA cellular services in Rajasthan, had placed bids for licences to operate in 21 of 28 India’s states. Goncharuk has said that Sistema plans to invest up to USD1 billion on expansion in India, including USD500 million to buy CDMA licences and USD500 million on rolling out networks.