This morning, news broke that Russian telecom giant Sistema is in talks to acquire controlling stake in Maxis owned Indian operator Aircel for $ 3 bn. This will be one of the largest acquisitions in Indian telecom sector since the $ 11.7 bn Vodafone- Hutchison deal in 2007.
Malaysian Maxis Communications owns 74 % in Aircel. Suneeta Reddy, joint managing director Appolo Hospitals and her husband P Dwarakanath Reddy own remaining 26%
Both Aircel and Sistema have either issued a non denial denial or said that they are not aware of any such development
Sistema, along with other cell phone operators like Telenor and Etisalat, lost license to operate in India after a supreme court verdict on 2G spectrum sale scrapped nearly 122 lisences in February
Sistema has an Indian venture, Sistema Shyam Teleservices Ltd in which it owns a 56.68% stake. The rest of it is owned by Shyam Group and Russian government. The venture operates MTS brand in India.
Aircel is on GSM. Sistema is on CDMA. Porting one operators customers to the other will by a challenge.
Owner of Maxis, T Ananda Krishnan is being probed by the CBI after serial entrepreneur C Sivasankaran who sold Aircel to Maxis for $ 1.8 bn in 2006 alleged that he was forced to sell the company to Maxis.