Indian telco bids over US$160 million for Sri Lanka’s Suntel: report

June 7, 2007 (LBO) – India’s Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) has put in a bid between 160 million dollars to 180 million for the Sri Lankan wireless fixed access operator Suntel, Indian news reports said. The Economic Times newspaper said the MTNL bid was believed to be the highest, though company officials declined to comment on it.

Bids for the telco closed at the end of May.

Suntel’s CEO Jeremy Huxtable said he was unable to comment on the outcome of the bids until a formal announcement is made.

At least four bidders were in the second stage of the bidding process including Sri Lanka’s John Keells Holdings.

“If the deal with Suntel materialises, it will provide a respite to MTNL, which has been under immense pressure to grow abroad as its business remains restricted to Delhi and Mumbai,” Economic Times said.

“MTNL lost the race for Saudi Arabia’s third mobile license in March and fixed line license in April. It was also out of the race for license in Kenya.”

Suntel is one of two fixed access wireless operators that were licensed in Sri Lanka as part of its telecom liberalization.

After struggling for years, both wireless operators saw a surge in new subscribe