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MTNL & BSNL Proceed With Zain Deal; More About Vavasi


Update: Curiouser and curiouser: Rediff has an interview with Farid Arifuddin of Vavasi Technolgies, particularly questioning him about his political affiliations, connections and proximity to the Congress (I). Business Standard too has more on the company. (via PressTalk)

Original Story: Notwithstanding a joint committee set up by Indian PSUs BSNL and MTNL rejecting the proposal to hop on board a consortium that is planning to buy 46% stake in Kuwait-based Zain Telecom, the telcos may be going ahead with the $14 million deal after all, with backing from the minister for IT and telecommunications A.Raja, Business Standard reports.

New-Delhi based Vavasi Group’s Telegence division and Malaysian tycoon Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary heads the consortium which is seeking to gain a foothold in Zain’s African operations. Zain had 40.07 million subscribers in 16 African countries in Middle East and Africa as of March 2009. A joint committee was set up to make the decision; it reviewed Vavasi Telegence’s financial reports and deemed them unsatisfactory for a deal of this size.

This comes close on the heels of the break up of a $23 billion M&A deal between African operator MTN and India’s Bharti Airtel. Meanwhile, Essar Teleholdings of Mumbai-based Essar Global is in discussions with Dhabi Group to take over Warid Telecom in Uganda and Congo within 3 months. All is quiet on the RCOM front – the telco had been interested in both Zain and MTN previously.

On October 1, BSNL and MTNL jointly wrote to Vavasi group conveying their interest in participating in the deal. Read about Zain’s potential synergies with the telcos on Medianama.

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The Mystery Of Vavasi Telegence & Farid Arifuddin; Finances

We earlier reported that there was limited information on Vavasi’s operations: now we learn that it is a research and development firm headed by Farid Arifuddin, a businessman from Karnataka. Rediff has an intriguing interview with him here. Note that the company website makes no mention of him nor promoters.

According to a 2007 report by IEEE Communications Society COMSOC, in 2007 Vavasi was gearing up to deploy wireless IP and 4G services in Mongolia. It planned to employ 3,500 by end 2008.

The joint committee’s findings showed Vavasi Telegence witnessed a loss of Rs 8.87 crore and had a negative net worth of Rs 8.65 crore in the fiscal 2007-08. It questioned the ability of the firm to participate in the stake acquisition. BSNL and MTNL have reserves of $7.6 billion and $2.2 billion respectively for acquisitions.

And What Do They Do?

The website reveals the company was set up in 2001 and is in partnership with Chinese company Beijing Xinwei Telecom Technology Inc, which has a WiMAX solution called McWILL (stands for Multi carrier Wireless Loop solution) which the company claims has been deployed in ten countries by 18 operators. Besides Telegence, another telecom company is part of the Vavasi group – Next Generation Telecommunications India Pvt. Ltd – which plans to own UAS licenses for 22 circles in India. No move has been made on its part so far.

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Anticlimax: India’s Bharti Airtel & Africa’s MTN Disengage Merger Talks

BSNL, MTNL Mulling Stake In Zain Telecom; Gains

Ushacomm To Launch VAS Services In Africa; Appoints Anagat Pareek Business Head

India’s Telco RCOM Eyes Zain’s African Network; Zain’s Acquisitions & Competitors

AT&T Eyes Minority Stake In BSNL; Why It’s A Bad Call

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