Bharti Airtel to acquire Tata's mobile business on debt-free cash-free basis

BT Online        Last Updated: October 13, 2017  | 11:37 IST
Bharti Airtel to acquire Tata's mobile business on debt-free cash-free basis

Bharti Airtel on Thursday announced the acquisition of consumer mobile businesses of Tata Teleservices Ltd (TTSL) and Tata Teleservices Maharastra Ltd (TTML). After the merger, over 40 million Tata customers will join the incumbent telecom sector market leader Bharti Airtel. The merger, which comes over a year after Reliance Jio disrupted the telecom sector, will be on a debt-free cash-free basis and all past liabilities and dues will be settled by Tata, the companies said in BSE filing.

"We believe today's agreement is the best and most optimal solution for the Tata Group and its stakeholders. Finding the right home for our longstanding customers and our employees has been the priority for us. We have evaluated multiple options and are pleased to have this agreement with Bharti," said N Chandrasekaran, Chairman, Tata Sons.

As part of the Agreement, Bharti Airtel will absorb Tata consumer mobile businesses (CMB) operations across the country in nineteen circles (17 under TTSL and 2 under TTML). These circles represent bulk of India's population and customer base.  

The proposed merger will include transfer of all the customers and assets of Tata CMB to Bharti Airtel, further augmenting Bharti Airtel's overall customer base and network. The merger is expected to enable Bharti Airtel to further boost its spectrum foot-print with the addition of 178.5 MHz spectrum (of which 71.3 MHz is liberalised) in the 850, 1800 & 2100 MHz bands.

"This is a significant development towards further consolidation in the Indian mobile industry and reinforces our commitment to lead India's digital revolution by offering world-class and affordable telecom services through a robust technology and solid spectrum portfolio. 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," said Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Airtel.

"The acquisition of additional spectrum made an attractive business proposition. It will further strengthen our already solid portfolio and create substantial long term value for our shareholders given the significant synergies," Mittal added.

"Bharti Airtel will ensure quality services to Tata CMB's customers, while offering them the added benefits of its innovative product portfolio, access to superior voice & data services, mobile banking, VAS and domestic/ international roaming facilities. Tata CMB's operations and services will continue as normal until the completion of the transaction," a press statement said.

The acquisition is subject to requisite regulatory approvals.

Meanwhile, Tata Communications today said it will explore the possibility of acquiring the enterprise business of Tata group firm, Tata Teleservices. "Tata Communications proposes to engage in exploratory discussions with TTSL and TTML regarding the potential acquisition of its enterprise business," Tata Communications said in a regulatory filing.

It added that its Board met today and has instructed the management to appoint independent advisors to "evaluate the strategic fit as well as the financial merits of the potential transaction". "The Board will review the recommendations before making any final decision," it said.

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