Aircel plans $1.4 bn investment this year

GSM service provider plans to expand its operations and become a pan-India operator by June

Telecom service provider Aircel today said it plans to invest $1.4 billion (over Rs 6,474 crore) this year on expanding its operations and become a pan-India GSM operator by June, reports PTI.

"We plan to invest $1.4 billion this year for expanding our networks and on existing operations. By June 2010, we plan to have operations in all 23 telecom circles in the country," Aircel chief operating officer Gurdeep Singh told PTI.
Talking about the company's future investment plans, Mr Singh said Aircel will invest another $2.6 billion in the next two years (2011 and 2012).

At present, the telco operates in 18 telecom circles across the country. It plans to launch its service in the remaining circles of Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Punjab by June, making it a pan-India operator.

Aircel is also aiming to triple its subscriber base to a record 100 million users by 2012, said Aircel director Sandip Das, who is also the chief executive officer of Maxis Communications.

Malayasia's Maxis Communications controls Aircel. At the end of January, Aircel had a subscriber base of 33 million.

Aircel is at the fifth place among pure GSM operators, with a market share of 8.38% after Bharti, Vodafone, Idea and BSNL.

Asked whether Aircel has plans to go for an initial public offering and list the company on bourses, Mr Das said there was no plan this year to raise funds through this route.

"The company's growth is not restricted for lack of funds," he added. "The tower (business)  hive-off had given us liquidity of around $3 billion. We will reinvest (it) in the current business," Mr Singh said.

Last month GTL had acquired 17,500 towers from Aircel for $1.8 billion (Rs 8,400 crore) with rights to roll out 20,000 more towers for Aircel.

Apart from speeding up its pan-India growth, Aircel plans to foray into the enterprise business segment and target corporate and SME (small and medium enterprises) customers.

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