Vodafone has scored a pre-christmas victory in the auction for Turkish mobile operator Telsim, beating off bids from several aggressive middle eastern rivals flush with petrodollars. The Newbury-based company’s winning bid of USD4.55 billion (GBP2.6 billion) has, however, already come in for criticism for being too high, particularly given that it has also promised to plough a further USD1.2 billion into Telsim over the next three years to improve network coverage and upgrade infrastructure. Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin has dismissed these claims, however, saying that the price was ‘fair for a foothold in one of the few European telecoms markets that still offers potential for growth’. In a televised auction in Istanbul, Vodafone outbid its closest rival – Kuwait’s MTC – by USD20 million. Egypt’s Orascom, Dubai-based Emaar, Russia’s Sistema and UAE’s Etisalat were all eliminated earlier, after they submitted the lowest sealed bids.
Telsim is the second largest wireless operator in Turkey with around 8.7 million customers at the start of September. The company reported 43% revenue growth in the first seven months of 2005. Vodafone expects the purchase to close in the first quarter of 2006.