Russian telecom major Sistema has said that it has been in preliminary discussions with India's Aircel, among others, to pick up an equity stake but would like to take a decision only after clarity over the regulatory issues in the Asia's third largest economy.
The report quoted Sistema Shyam Teleservices' president and CEO, Vsevolod Rozanov as saying "We have had preliminary discussions, which also include them apart from others. But we will not take any decision unless we are assured our investment in the country is protected." SSTL, set to lose all but one of its 22 zonal operating permits, is open to acquisitions in India, Rozanov said on Monday.
The deal with Aircel, if happens, would be the one of the largest transaction in the telecom sector since Vodafone bought Hutchison Essar for USD 11.7 billion in 2007. Sources said that Sistema would buy into Aircel's overseas based parent company with rights to have the Indian unit transferred to it after a restructuring process. Malaysia's Maxis Communications owns 74% stake in Aircel through multiple entities.
Media report said that Malaysian company has been looking for valuation of around USD 7 billion which has been pinching Sistema as the country continues to struggle with uncertain laws and regulations.
Besides, Sistema, which lost its licence after the Supreme Court quashed all permits granted by former telecom minister A Raja in 2008, didn't came to bid for the fresh auctions of CDMA airwaves and prefered to stay on wait-and-watch mode till its case stayed pending against the cancellation of licence.