Omni teams up with Metromedia for Azerbaijan job Wireless phone network via satellite planned


August 13, 1998|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

To help it fund a satellite-linked wireless phone network for a former Soviet republic, Omni Communications Inc. said yesterday that it has formed a joint venture with Metromedia International Group, a public, New Jersey-based media and communications company.

The Baltimore telecommunications company said the new company, Omni Metromedia Caspian Ltd., based in the Bahamas, had acquired Omni's interest in Caspian American Telecommunications LLC, a company started by Omni in 1997 to operate its exclusive 20-year license to build a wireless network from the Republic of Azerbaijan. Omni retains part ownership of the license.

In exchange, Metromedia will help finance the estimated $46 million project to build the telephone network, said Mary Doherty, Omni's director of operations.

The license allows the new company to install and operate telecommunications services for Azerbaijan, including local, national, international long-distance telephone and data communications and Internet access.

The network could take 10 years to be completed.

Azerbaijan became an independent state in 1991 and is still a developing nation. The country has vast oil reserves and is considered to be poised for an economic boom.

Before joining with Metromedia, Omni had begun services to some customers, but "we needed to raise cash," Doherty said.

"Everybody we talked to said we were too small a company; they said we needed a large operator with experience on our team," she said.

"Metromedia was our top choice because they are already active in that part of the world, and they've been trying to get into Azerbaijan since the early 1990s," Doherty said.

"They've agreed to put forth money."

Derya O. Yavalar, who is founder and president of Omni Communications, will serve as a board member of the new venture, Doherty said.

Pub Date: 8/13/98

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