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Delayed 3G Auction By Jan 15; RBI-ECB; Gambling On 3G With Borrowed Money?

Given credit crunch, the Department of Telecom has deferred the 3G auction till January 15th. Earlier the auctions were to be completed by the end of the year. A revised timeline, via the Hindu, is as follows:

Nov 30: Auction design, bid document to be prepared
Dec 15: Inviting operators to bid
Dec 31: Prequalification of bidders
Jan 15: Auction to be completed
Jan 25: Signing of contracts with successful bidders
Jan 31: Depositing of first tranch of auction money

Note that we couldn’t independently locate the schedule on the DoTs site.

What’s also interesting is that the Reserve Bank of India has also allowed telecom companies to raise funds from overseas, in order to acquire 3G licenses. Note that some mobile operators, namely Unitech Wireless and Datacom, are yet to close deals with potential partners/investors, while some have already done so. I wonder if the valuations of these companies may have been impacted over the past month or so, and perhaps rationlized. Take look at how expensive rollouts have been Idea cellulars profitability was severely hit in the last quarter, when they rolled out in Mumbai. The RBI go-ahead thus allows companies to gamble on 3G with borrowed money…

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