The telecommunication sector has been a significant driver of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in India accounting for the highest share of deals at 18.6 per cent and 22 per cent during the last two years with values of $5.7 billion and $11 billion in 2008 and 2007, respectively. If the $23-billion Bharti-MTN deal goes through, then the trend is expected to continue this year as well.
Mr Bundeep Singh Rangar, Chairman, IndusView Advisors Ltd, says: “This one deal worth $23 billion will almost match the value of the 280 cross-border mergers and acquisitions last year at $25 billion. It marks the grand entry of India as an acquirer in the international telecom industry, just as previous years saw India Inc. buying into international steel, auto and IT industries.” The value of M&A deals during the first four months of 2009 totalled $2 billion.
There have been a string of investments in Indian telecom companies since last year. This includes the deals between Tata Teleservices Ltd and NTT DoCoMo, Inc.; Unitech Telecom and Norwegian telecom firm Telenor ASA at $1.36 billion; Swan Telecom and Emirates Telecommunications Corp (Etisalat) at $900 million; and Bahrain Telecommunications Co and S Tel Ltd for $225 million.
Next in line
The Bharti-MTN deal could trigger similar deals in the Indian telecom space. Other operators, including Reliance Communications, Loop Telecom, Datacom, Idea Cellular and Aircel, could be the next to strike a deal with a foreign player.
A number of international operators, including AT&T, Kuwait-based Zain Group, Qatar Telecom and Telecom Italia SpA, are looking to enter the fastest growing telecom market in the world.
Analysts say that M&As in the Indian telecom space could pick up pace because on the one hand domestic players are looking at foreign money to fund expansion plans and on the other international operators are exploring ways to move into emerging markets with their home market reaching saturation.
Source: The Hindu Businessline