Thursday, December 3, 2009

Acquisition plans still on hold: Bharti

Telecom giant Bharti Airtel Thursday said its overseas acquisition plans were still on hold.

"There is no change in acquisition plans (as of now)," Bharti Airtel chief executive Manoj Kohli told reporters here on the sidelines of a telecom summit.

Earlier this year, it had held merger talks with South African telecom major MTN group, but the $23-billion deal did not materialise due to regulatory hurdles.

Kohli also said there was not much change in the number of subscribers in November.

"We have had very stable growth despite new competition."

Bharti added 2.7 million mobile-phone subscribers in October, while the November figures are yet to be announced.

Asked whether there is any scope of further reduction in tariff, Kohli said: "India's affordability is best. It should (only) come free from high tax burden."

He also said sectoral regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), should look at "predatory pricing" -- the practice of selling a product or service at a very low price.

The telecom sector is witnessing a tariff war as all major operators have cut rates drastically to remain competent in the market.

Recently, leading service providers, including Bharti Airtel, launched per-second billing plan under which subscribers would be allowed to make call for one paisa per minute.

State-run telecom major Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd's (BSNL) chairman and managing director Kuldeep Goyal had Wednesday warned that the price war would hit the profitability of the company.

"Of course, some hit on the revenue would be there," he told reporters in New Delhi.

However, telecom operators hope that the expected volume growth would make up for any reduction in revenues.
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