SingTel will buy 20 per cent of Bharti Telecom Ltd. (BTL) and 15 per cent of Bharti Televentures Ltd. (BTVL), SingTel said in a statement Tuesday. Bharti is India’s largest private telecommunications services group, with fixed-line, cellular, satellite and Internet businesses, and over 500,000 subscribers in total, SingTel said.

The purchase by SingTel of stakes in BTL and BTVL is consistent with SingTel’s strategy to focus its investment efforts in the Asia-Pacific region, SingTel said in the statement.

India’s market offers great potential for growth, according to SingTel. The country’s population recently passed one billion, and the country has low cellular and fixed line telephone penetration, at 0.2 per cent and 2.5 per cent. The increasingly close ties between the two companies is expected to lead to better telecommunications links between Singapore and India, especially for businesses. The two companies recently announced a plan to build a 3,500-kilometre submarine cable linking the city-state with the southern Indian city of Chennai.

Singapore and India are natural business partners, officials from both governments have acknowledged.

Singapore has a highly developed IT and telecommunications infrastructure, but a severe shortage of IT manpower; India the opposite

. SingTel, in Singapore, can be reached at http://www.singtel.com/. Bharti, in New Delhi, can be reached at http://www.bhartigroup.com/.

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