Leading telephony provider Bharti Tele-Ventures is to launch the AirTel cellular brand in Rajasthan as part of a Rs 2 billion ($44.7 million) expansion plan for the state.
The company entered the state through a Rs 4.3 billion ($96 million) acquisition of Hexacom India Limited, whose Oasis brand had a 41 per cent market share in the state with 265,000 customers.
Bharti Tele-Ventures chief Sunil Bharti Mittal told reporters on Sunday the company would launch AirTel in Rajasthan in 90 days and hoped to double its customer base.
"We plan to put in Rs 200 crores (Rs 2 billion) investment in the next 18 months as part of our expansion plans for Rajasthan circle," he added.
The Oasis acquisition "would bring Bharti a step closer to acquire a national footprint across all 23 telecom circles, covering key destinations in the country" according to Mittal.
The acquisition is principally a share-swap deal with Bharti Tele-Ventures issuing shares or optionally convertible redeemable debentures worth Rs. 3.75 billion in favour of the Shyam group in return for its holding in Hexacom. The rest of the transaction will be in cash.
Bharti Tele-Ventures plans to increase the penetration in the state from the present 62 towns to more than 150. This would mean an increase in the number of cell sites from 137 to 500 in the next 18 months, Mittal said.
Bharti Tele-Ventures has seven million cellular and 600,000 landline subscribers. It offers mobile services in 16 out of India's 23 circles and fixed-line services in five circles.