S Tel rolled out its GSM services in Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand and Bihar in December and has since acquired 300,000 subscribers, Business Standard reports. The operator has licenses for six circles in total – it is yet to launch in North East and Assam circles. S Tel also owns a category A ISP license and can provide broadband services too.
In January 2009, Batelco and Millenium Private Equity, a Dubai Financial Services Authority regulated entity, had formed a joint special purpose vehicle Batelco Millennium India Company to acquire 49% in S Tel in January 2009 for $225 million. Of this, Batelco owned 42.7% as of July 2009 and Millenium India had 6.3%.
Post GB Corp’s entry, the division of stakes between GB Corp, Batelco and Millenium India is not clear, but Siva Group continues to remain the majority stakeholder with 51%. The original owners of S Tel, two private equity firms Mauritius-based Telecom Investments and Chennai based Sky City Foundations have vanished.
Do read: the S Tel timeline on MediaNama
S Tel secured Rs 10,000 crore in 2008, $225 million from Batelco, and C Sivasankaran’s Rs. 1,150 crore in 2009 and GB Corp will now help fund roll outs this year. The operator has invested Rs 1,253 crore till date; it was on the look out for Rs. 2000 crore for the next 2-3 years.
Uninor Versus S Tel
S Tel has not opted for the marketing and advertising hoop la Uninor has; their target markets are starkly different – Uninor is wooing the medium to high ARPU customer in large circles while S Tel is aiming for C class circles and cities with lower teledensity and larger potential.