June 18, 2002 | Business Standard

Tata Tele Hughes close to merger

India's Tata Teleservices Ltd is infinal talks with Hughes Network Systems to merge with the U.S firm's local fixed line phone unit Hughes Tele.com, a top Tata Teleservices official said on Monday. "We are in the final stages of the talks. The discussions are on with the hope the merger will happen," S Ramakrishnan, managing director of Tata Teleservices told reporters.

He said Tata Teleservices and Hughes Tele.com had signed a memorandum of understanding in April with Hughes Network Systems, a unit of US satellite television giant Hughes Electronic Corp, to negotiate the merger by the end of June. The U.S. firm owns 56.1 percent of Hughes Tele.com. A previous attempt at merging the fixed line businesses of unlisted Tata Teleservices and Hughes Tele.com was called off in January after both sides disagreed on valuations.

Asked whether the merger would be formalised within the time frame set by the companies, Ramakrishnan said, "We hope so." Ramakrishnan said Tata Teleservices was open to inducting a foreign partner, but a very difficult market made it impossible for global telecom majors to spread their wings. "We will keep the option of having a foreign partner open. May be 12-18 months down the line, there would be some momentum among global players," he said.