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|May 11, 1998||
Fascel secures Rs 3.5 billion fundingBuoyed by high airtime usage, cellular operator Fascel has tied up funding to the tune of Rs 3.5 billion from the Industrial Development Bank of India and the Finland Export Credit Agency.
IDBI has sanctioned a project finance loan of Rs 2.5 billion, while another $28 million (Rs 1.12 billion) has come from the Finnish agency.
The company, which runs operations in the Gujarat circle, is looking to tie up rupee funding for another Rs 2.5 billion and the external commercial borrowing option is also being explored. "If we can raise a larger amount of rupee debt, then we may not make the ECB,'' a company official said.
Although Fascel, like many other operators, has defaulted in licence payments, revenue inflows are higher than for most circles. "It is a fact that presence of bigger sponsor names in the telecom industry does not automatically translate into better revenues,'' a banker said.
Industry estimates put the Fascel's subscriber base at 21,000- 22,000. Average usage per subscriber per month has climbed from 90 minutes in 1996-97 to 334 minutes in 1997-98. The figure for 1997-98 is actually higher than the usage projected in its the bid which was 259 minutes.
Fascel, therefore, has the highest level of usage, higher even than Bombay, which tops the metro list.
But according to the patterns exhibited by the industry, usage usually tapers down and Fascel is likely to exhibit a downswing.
The company has provided for a lowering of usage as market penetration increases and usage has been projected at 239 minutes per subscriber per month during 1998-99.
Although the company has had to lower its airtime rates from Rs 11-12 to Rs 4-5, revenues per month per subscriber are among the highest at Rs 1,558.
The second operator in the Gujarat circle - Birla AT&T - in spite of being promoted by major corporate houses, appears to have lower usage per subscriber. The consolidated figures for Gujarat and Maharashtra circles indicate that usage was 114 minutes during 1997-98. Revenues per subscriber per month (inclusive of rentals) stood at Rs 1,029 per month in the two circles.
- Compiled from the Indian media
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