Bharti buys out BT's mobile stake for S$255m

The Bharti Group has bought out British Telecom's stake in Bharti Cellular Services, paying US$140.2 million (S$255 million) to take complete ownership of the mobile operator.

The Bharti Group has bought out British Telecom's stake in Bharti Cellular Services, paying US$140.2 million (S$255 million) to take complete ownership of the mobile operator.

BT sold its 44 percent share of the company, which has 350,000 subscribers in New Delhi, to ease the debts it incurred paying for third-generation (3G) wireless licenses in Europe.

"With this move, BT exits all domestic telecom services operations in India," Bharti noted in a statement released Monday. Bharti had already bought out BT in two other ventures.

In April, it took over stakes in Bharti BT, which provides satellite-based communications, and Bharti BT Internet, which provides Internet services across the country.

The purchase price is slightly under the US$150 million a Times of India report had said would be paid by privately-held Bharti.

Bharti has another mobile company which operates in the Southern Indian states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. India is projected to have 20 million mobile users in 2005, AFP said, citing credit rating agency ICRA.

Bharti is also in partnership with Singapore Telecom Ltd in a S$1.2 billion cable project linking Singapore, Chennai and Mumbai.

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