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New Call Telecom looks to acquire software, infrastructure companies; could invest around Rs 1,920 crore to support OTT strategy in India
TT Correspondent |  |  12 Aug 2015

UK-based internet service provider (ISP) New Call Telecom is looking to acquire three-four new companies in the software and infrastructure segments to support its over-the-top (OTT), or app, strategy in India. It could invest around $300 million (Rs 1,920 crore) in the next six to 12 months in the country, CEO Nigel Eastwood said, Reports ET, (Economic Times).

"We have spent time over the last few months looking at a number of companies. We have got around eight-nine companies that we are talking to and three to four we would end up acquiring. We will be making announcements about two of them very shortly," Eastwood told ET. He added that these acquisitions will be aligned to the company's app plan.

"Almost all of them are India-based companies. But one of the companies that we are talking to will be an interesting play coming to India. What we are looking to do is acquire complementary assets," he said.

Last year, New Call acquired messaging app Nimbuzz and Delhi-based Wi-Fi Ozone Networks. It was also in talks with a number of fixed-line broadband companies, including Delhi-based Nextra Teleservices. Those negotiations failed due to valuation issues.

On investments, Eastwood said, "We see investors now really warming toward what we are doing and really validating the opportunities. We have gone way beyond our initial expectations because that was just seed capital. And, we have got enough capital for what we want to do." Eastwood said the company is no longer actively hunting for a fixedline company as it's strategically focused on the OTT plan.

New Call is consolidating India operations in one office in Gurgaon. It will be hiring 100 people in the next six to 12 months to support the operations of all three companies.

"We are acquiring other businesses and incubating new ideas and that's why we need people. That's my vision behind growing our business in India (and) getting behind the Digital India initiative," Eastwood said.

New Call's acquisition of Ozone Networks is awaiting Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) approval. The application has been deferred a number of times. "There's one last area that needed approval from one of the departments, but is taking a lot of time. The process is painful and should be a lot easier," Eastwood said.

Sanjeev Bobby Sarin, founder and CEO of Ozone Networks, said the company is in talks with two of the top three telecom operators for Wi-Fi offloading and is pitching for the Bengaluru Airport Wi-Fi project. The company says it has deployed 6,500 access points and 1,500 public hot spots in 26 cities. It aims to reach one million hotspots by 2020. Offloading allows mobile phone companies to switch data traffic to wireless from cellular networks to reduce congestion.

ET, (The Economic Times, India's largest Economic daily)

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12 Aug 2015(IST)  
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