Saudi Telecom Co. (STC), Saudi Arabia’s state-run operator, has entered the Indian market by buying 25% equity in Malaysia’s Maxis that owns a controlling stake in Chennai-based mobile operator Aircel.
STC, the largest telecom company in West Asia, said in a statement it has acquired 25% in Maxis Communication for $3 billion (Rs12,300 crore). Maxis, which is owned by T. Ananda Krishnan, controls 74% in Aircel. The balance 26% in Aircel is held by the Reddy family of Apollo Hospitals group.
As STC now owns a quarter of Maxis, it would also hold an equivalent stake in Maxis’ India operations.
Officials of Aircel or Maxis were not immediately available for comments on the development.
Aircel will have to seek Foreign Investment Promotion Board’s approval for this change in shareholding.
STC said in the statement it has entered the telecom markets of India, Malaysia and Indonesia with the investment. The statement quoted STC chairman Muhammad Bin Suliman Al-Jasser as saying: “We will expand our footprint to over 1.4 billion people in these countries.”
Aircel right now has eight circles and has applied for pan-India licence from the government depending on the availability of spectrum.