Wireless Chase

May 04, 2007 (LBO) – The race to buy the fixed wireless operator Suntel has narrowed down to four contenders, with an Indian telecom firm expecting to conduct due diligence on the Sri Lankan operator soon. Originally seven firms were in the running to buy Suntel, a unit of Sweden’s Telia.

“In the short-list there are four firms,” Suntel Chief Executive Jeremy Huxtable told LBO.

Though Telia has not released the names of prospective buyers, Malaysia Telekom, a consortium led by John Keells Holdings and an Indian party, as well as the Tata controlled VSNL were believed to be in the running.

Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) of India has also said it was in the shortlist and it had ‘crossed the first hurdle’.

œWe are amongst the companies that have been shortlisted by Suntel for the sale, MTNL’s RSP Sinha told India’s Economic Times newspaper.

The report said MTNL was appointing a consultant to carry out due diligence on Suntel.

MTNL is a firm that provides telecom services to Delhi and Mumbai.

Suntel posted provisional profits of 886 million rupees in 2006 on a turnover of 7,073 million rupees compared with 4,932 million rupees a year before.

In the six mon