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Bahrain's Batelco to start India ops in 4th quarter

MANAMA (Reuters) - Bahrain Telecommunications Co (Batelco) expects its Indian mobile phone affiliate S Tel Ltd. to start operations in the fourth quarter, it said in a statement on Sunday.

The company said in April its 2009 net profit would depend on whether it starts the operations in the fourth quarter or the first quarter of 2010.

“We have been working very closely with our partners and we are looking forward to the launch of full services from S Tel during quarter four this year,” Chief Executive Peter Kaliaropoulos said in the statement.

Kaliaropoulos said in April he expected full-year net profit to be above 90 million Bahraini dinars ($238.7 million) if its Indian affiliate started operations in the fourth quarter and booked start-up costs of about 9 million dinars.

He expected net profit of above 100 million dinar if the operations in India, Batelco’s first outside the Gulf Arab regions, began next year.

In January, a Batelco-led consortium said it had agreed to pay $225 million for a 49 percent stake in S Tel which it would build in stages. Batelco said on Sunday the stake had reached 42.7 percent.

Batelco is facing increased competition in its home market, and is looking to diversify its earnings by adding operations in Asia and Africa.