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Gulf operators ramp up expansion in India

Etisalat gains majority stake in Etisalat DB, while Batelco’s joint venture S Tel launches services in India and considers bid for 3G licences.

Gulf operators ramp up expansion in India
India is viewed as one of the world's fastest growing mobile markets.

Gulf operators Etisalat and Batelco have both strengthened their positions in India, with the UAE incumbent gaining a majority stake in its Indian venture Etisalat DB just a week after Batelco's Indian subsidiary S Tel started operations in the country.

Etisalat, which originally bought a 45% stake in Indian operator Swan Telecom for $900 million back in September 2008, finally acquired a majority stake in the company after buying a 5.27% stake from Genex Exim Ventures for about $81million, according to the Economic Times of India.

Meanwhile, S Tel, a joint venture between Batelco Group and Chennai-based Siva Group, said last week that it had already launched mobile services in Himachal Pradesh region, and would launch in Bihar and Orissa "in the coming days," according to Peter Kaliaropoulos, CEO, Batelco Group.

He added that S Tel was also "exploring its participation" in the forthcoming auction for 3G mobile spectrum, but has not yet decided which circles it will be bidding for.

S Tel has licences to operate in Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir and Assam circles of India.

Etisalat DB has licenses for 15 circles comprising Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Mumbai, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh East and West, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.

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