India’s Tata Communications is looking to expand its presence in Southeast Asia and Africa following its recent acquisition of South African fixed-line firm Neotel, reports Dow Jones Newswires. “We have invested in Neotel in South Africa and will take a similar approach in other emerging markets in Southeast Asia and in the future in Africa,” said Srinivas Adeppalli, senior vice-president of corporate strategy. According to the company’s new CFO, Sanjay Baweja, Tata Communications has around INR15 billion (US$303.7 million) in cash at present, dispelling earlier reports that the company’s cash position had reached a critical level. Adeppalli added that the company’s capital expenditure plans of US$400 million to US$500 million for the current fiscal year were on track, and would concentrate mainly on undersea cabling to connect India with Europe and South Africa.
According to reports last month, Tata Communications has approached the Indian government – a 26 percent shareholder in the firm – regarding a new rights issue to raise INR10 billion, plus taking on a further INR20 billion in debt. As well as the submarine cable project, the company is thought to need funds in order to acquire spectrum suitable for WiMAX in India’s forthcoming ‘Broadband Wireless Access’ (BWA) auction, which is scheduled to begin later this year alongside India’s 3G spectrum auction. The company is also looking to participate in the Tata Group’s sale of a stake in its mobile subsidiary, Tata Teleservices, to Japan’s NTT DoCoMo, Adeppalli said. NTT DoCoMo has agreed to buy a 26 percent stake in Tata Teleservices for US$2.7 billion. Tata Communications holds around 15 percent in Tata Teleservices and the report adds that Tata Communications may offer some of its stake to be sold to the Japanese firm.