Fri, 29 Aug 1997

Mobisel offers shares to foreign investors

JAKARTA (JP): Private analog cellular operator PT Mobile Selular Indonesia (Mobisel) plans to sell between 10 percent and 20 percent of its shares to foreign investors.

Company vice president for marketing and sales, Dario Fasciano, said six companies had expressed interest in taking part in the private placement.

"There are already six companies bidding for the opportunities. We expect to complete the process by the first quarter in 1998," he told The Jakarta Post Wednesday.

But he refused to name the potential bidders and the expected value of the private placement.

"They are from European nations," he said, adding the sale of the shares was aimed at improving the company's financial strength.

Mobisel operates Orbit, an analog mobile cellular telecommunications unit using the Nordic mobile telephone (NMT- 450i) system.

Fasciano said 29,000 people subscribed to Orbit, 85 percent of who live in the greater Jakarta area.

"We expect to have 80,000 users by the end of this year. Orbit coverage now includes Lampung in Sumatra and Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara through the northern route in Java and Bali."

He said Orbit had installed 100 radio base stations (RBS) to support its network and would increase stations continuously.

Mobisel, incorporated in February 1996, is 70 percent owned by PT Rajasa Hazanah Perkasa, 25 percent by state-owned PT Telkom and 5 percent by Telkom's employee pension fund. Rajasa, a firm owned by businessman Hutomo (Tommy) Mandala Putra, previously operated the NMT-450, the first generation of the NMT-450i system.

"Orbit will just be a service of Mobisel as we plan to offer other telecommunications services in the future. Some of the services will be based on cellular technology," he said, adding that his company also planned to operate digital cellular services.

The NMT-450i cellular technology service was developed in Europe. The system is suited to countries with a similar geography to Indonesia because its signal band offers wider geographic coverage at a substantially lower cost than other cellular technology.

Indonesia has licensed three nationwide mobile cellular telecommunications operators to use the global system for mobile communications (GSM) technology. They are PT Satelindo, PT Telkomsel and PT Excelcomindo. It has also licensed three cellular operators, PT Metrosel, PT Telesera and PT Komselindo, to cover several provinces with the advanced mobile phone system (AMPS), which can be upgraded to a code division multiple access (CDMA) system.

The government has issued other licenses to several companies to run DCS-1800 and PHS systems locally and nationwide in the near future. (icn)