BSNL drops plan to bid for Tunisian licence; Tunisiana to float

15 Jun 2009

BSNL has dropped plans to bid for a unified fixed/mobile telecoms licence in Tunisia because the potential returns are not high enough. ‘We did not bid for Tunisia…We did not find returns on our investment,’ a senior BSNL official told an Indian newspaper. BSNL has reportedly shortlisted eight consultants, including Ernst & Young, McKinsey, KPMG and PriceWaterHouseCoopers, to assist with its plans for mergers and acquisitions, strategic partnerships and overseas forays. The state-run firm has so far concentrated on the Indian market, but has decided to expand overseas. Sources say BSNL has a cash surplus of over USD10 billion to fund its overseas foray. To date, Turkcell remains the only known bidder for the technology-neutral concession, due to be awarded this month.

Meanwhile Reuters reports that Tunisian cellco Tunisiana, a joint venture of Kuwait’s National Mobile Telecom (Wataniya) and Egypt’s Orascom Telecom, will soon list on the Tunis bourse. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Tunisiana had a 50% share of the wireless market at the end of March 2009, with 4.3 million customers. It competes with Telecom Tunisie arm Tunicell which accounted for the other half of subscribers.