BSNL drops plan to bid for Tunisian licence while Tunisiana will float soon

Telecoms

BSNL has dropped plans to bid for a unified fixed/mobile telecoms licence in Tunisia because it says the potential returns are not high enough. ‘We did not bid for Tunisia...We did not find returns on our investment,’ a senior BSNL official told an Indian newspaper. BSNL has reportedly shortlisted eight consultants, including Ernst & Young, McKinsey, KPMG and PriceWaterHouseCoopers, to assist with its plans for mergers and acquisitions, strategic partnerships and overseas forays.

The state-run firm has so far concentrated on the Indian market, but has decided to expand overseas. Sources say BSNL has a cash surplus of over USD10 billion to fund its overseas foray. To date, Turkcell remains the only known bidder for the technology-neutral concession, due to be awarded this month.

Meanwhile Reuters reports that Tunisian cellco Tunisiana, a joint venture of Kuwait's National Mobile Telecom (Wataniya) and Egypt's Orascom Telecom, will soon list on the Tunis bourse. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Tunisiana had a 50% share of the wireless market at the end of March 2009, with 4.3 million customers. It competes with Telecom Tunisie arm Tunicell which accounted for the other half of subscribers.

Telegeography