Science

Tatas to merge telecom business with Bharti Airtel

Tatas to merge telecom business with Bharti Airtel

Airtel, for whom it will be the 7th acquisition in five years, will from November 1 take over 4 crore customers of Tata Teleservices Ltd (TTSL) and Tata Teleservices Maharashtra Ltd (TTML) in 19 telecom circles or zones on "a debt-free cash-free basis", the two groups announced in separate but identical press statements.

The two had signed binding agreements in September 2016 for the merger of their mobile business.

The Bharti Airtel-Tata Tele combined entity would also have a share of around 40 per cent in the total telecom revenues, which will be just behind the projected 44 per cent for the Idea-Vodafone combine.

This merger will be carried out on a debt-free cash-free basis, with one exception: Airtel will have to pay a part of Tata's unpaid spectrum liability to the Department of Telecom (DoT), on a deferred basis. It will also enable Bharti Airtel to add 178.5 MHz spectrum (of which 71.3 MHz is liberalised) in the 850, 1800 and 2100 MHz bands.

Tata's' wireless business after being acquired by Bharti Airtel and increasing their customer base to 321 million. According to the contract, both the companies agreed that all the debt would be paid off by Tata Teleservices and not Bharti Airtel.

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Tata is also in initial stages of exploring combination of its enterprise business with Tata Communications and its Retail Fixed Line and Broadband business with Tata Sky. Tata's consumer mobile business operations and services will continue as normal until the completion of the transaction. "The customers of Tata will be able to enjoy India's widest and fastest voice & data network, and bouquet of Airtel's best-in-class products and services", he said.

Bharti Airtel will acquire Tata Group's loss-making mobile telephony business, nearly for free, boosting its spectrum holding and raising subscriber base while saving the Tatas from the prospect of having to shut down the struggling unit. "It will further strengthen our already solid portfolio and create substantial long term value for our shareholders given the significant synergies", Mittal added further. Having said that, Tata will retain its stake in Viom while taking care of all the liabilities associated with it.

According to Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran, it was a hard decision to merge. "Securities Private Limited is the financial advisor to Tata".

Mathews indicated that with this deal three big telecom players have emerged in the industry - Airtel-TTSL, Vodafone-Idea and Reliance Jio. Bharti Airtel, led by billionaire Sunil Mittal, has operations in 17 countries across Asia and Africa.

Tata and Bharti Airtel will work together to further explore other mutual areas of cooperation, the companies said.


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