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Tatas step into driver’s seat at Hughes Tele

Mumbai, Dec. 6: Tata Teleservices Ltd (TTSL), the basic telecom service provider promoted by Tata Industries Ltd, today announced completion of the acquisition of Hughes Tele.com (India) Ltd and reconstitution of the latter’s board.

TTSL holds over 70 per cent in HTIL, whose board now comprises eight directors including chairman J. J. Irani, Ishaat Hussain, R. Gopalakrishnan, Kishor Chaukar, Firdose Vandrevala, and N. S. Ramchandran and Pradman Kaul, both independent directors. At a board meeting held today, S. Ramakrishnan was appointed managing director and Ajay Pandey the chief operating officer of HTIL. The company may be rechristened Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd.

At a news conference today, Irani said TTSL plans to introduce limited mobility in the state from the first quarter of the next fiscal. That may involve an investment of more than Rs 500 crore, for which talks are on with financial institutions.

Besides Mumbai, the company is also looking at other centres including Pune and Nagpur. TTSL has introduced limited mobility in Andhra Pradesh where it has over 8,000 subscribers, apart from other circles like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Gujarat, where it is a basic telecom service licence provider. It is also weighing plans to launch its basic services in Kerala, Haryana and Punjab.

Senior officials said Tata Teleservices is targeting a comprehensive presence across the country involving an investment of around Rs 7,500 crore, to mop up over 3 million subscribers. Of this amount, the company has already invested Rs 2,400 crore in Andhra Pradesh and four other circles—Rs 1,027 crore by way of equity and balance by debt.

While not ruling out the possibility of induction of a strategic partner at a later stage, sources said of the Rs 7,500 crore, equity contribution may be around Rs 4,100 crore and the rest will be debt.

“HTIL’s acquisition is an important milestone in Tata Tele’s plans to have a comprehensive presence across the country,” Irani said.

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