Batelco, Bahrain’s telecom operator has partnered with Millennium Private Equity to pick up 49% stake for $225m in new Indian operator S Tel. The deal values S Tel at $459m, which has license to operate in 6 circles in India. Given that these 6 circles account for 11% of total wireless subscribers in India, the valuation is largely inline with the US$ 1.8-2 billion Telenor paid for Unitech and Etisalat paid for Swan.
S Tel has licenses in 6 circles in India, which include Bihar, Orissa, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, the Northeast and Assam. These circles are all “C” category and have significantly lower penetration at 20% compared to total penetration of 31% for total Indian market. As a result, growth rate in these circles could be faster over the coming 5-10 years.