Bharti Airtel in Talks to Acquire Mumbai’s Oldest Loop Mobile

loop-mobile-airtel-merger-acquisitionMumbai’s oldest mobile operator Loop Mobile is in talks with Bharti Airtel for possible merger, as Loop’s main promotor Dubai based Khaitan Holdings Group looks to exit the telecom sector. Earlier Loop was in talks with Telenor, Aircel and Idea Cellular.

Loop Mobile, earlier known as BPL Mobile is serving the metro since 1995 and currently serves nearly 3 million subscribers with 4th spot. Loop generated a gross revenue of Rs 128 crore in quarter ended December 2012. But at the same time Loop, which enjoys highest ARPU in the circle & 30% postpaid customer base has only 44.36% active subscribers, which is second lowest in the market.

Loop Mobile’s sister company Loop Telecom grabbed licenses in 21 circles in 2008, but all licenses were cancelled in February 2012 by Supreme Court verdict. Since then Loop is present only in one circle – Mumbai. The license of Mumbai is going to be expired on September 2014. Like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Loop also filed a case against Government for 10 years license extension.

It’s obvious that Airtel and Loop’s merged entity will be the market leader in Mumbai with 30% market capture, but Airtel’s main concern is to get Loop’s 8MHz spectrum on 900MHz band which is more efficient than 1800MHz and helps to cut down capital expenditure. Though nothing was confirmed and no valuation is fixed, if Loop get the 10-year extension the valuation will definitely go up. But everything depend on when Govt. comes with M&A rules and regulation for telecom sector.

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  • Rhishav September 6, 2013 1:36 pm

    My Dream Combo would be of BSNL, Airtel/Vodafone/Idea merged into one, MTS/Uninor/Videocon/Reliance/Tata Docomo/Aircel merged into one. So 3 operators combined. Operating in all the circles. Providing 3g services almost everywhere.
    Its just my dream combo. But i guess it wont be possible. Still It wuld be good if it happens..

  • Dinesh Jayakrishnan September 5, 2013 9:31 am

    now a days i stared to hate Airtel, coz they are raising call tariffs and charges of ratecutters to a greater extent. common people cant afford this price raise . i think after the formation of TRAI this price raise happens to a greater extend … and TRAI is watching the price raise and making way for the telecom biggies to earn huge sums of money from the sweat of the common people… Hate u all………

  • siddesh September 4, 2013 9:02 am

    loop closed the balance transfer thing
    please report about it
    and will the unlimited calling thing of mgm get closed after the merger??
    why did they say never ending then??
    :S

  • noop September 3, 2013 12:36 pm

    Yes, please. What’s the point of an operator that’s only in one city?

  • imahesh September 3, 2013 10:31 am

    If loop want to sell then sell to Uninor or Videocon not airtel or vodafone or Idea.

    • Duane Bayliss September 3, 2013 1:15 pm

      @ IMAHESH
      Why? So the good-network of LOOP can be downgraded to the standards of Uninor or Videocon?

      • imahesh September 4, 2013 9:35 am

        @Duane Bayliss its not downgraded to Uninor or Videocon standared network
        but using current better network of Loop Mobile Uninor or Videocon will provide same cheap services as Loop offering as compared to airtel or voda

      • Dr lambinagh October 13, 2013 11:47 am

        Havnt seen you on the forum lately. All good? Need educated folk like u to comment.

    • Duane Bayliss September 3, 2013 1:16 pm

      @ IMAHESH
      Why? So the good-network of LOOP can be downgraded to the standards of Uninor or Videocon??

      • abdul September 6, 2013 7:55 pm

        isnt uninor a big telco…..will always remain in same condition?????if loop canbe good …..then why telenor ….cant be…best.

    • Dr Lambinagh September 3, 2013 6:54 pm

      WHY? Is there a basis for your statement.
      Duane is right to question why should the network and quality of services be subjected to a downgrade if uninor or videocon were to take loop because they are operators that have very little grasp on how to provide a great telecom experience for Indians. We are an extremely demanding consumer as Indians, we want world class service at very cheap rates, but one must go to an operator who has a balanced approach and a long term customer focus in mind. To me Airtel is the best, but Voda and idea are also good. The rest r just white noise to me.

      • imahesh September 4, 2013 9:40 am

        @Dr Lambinagh Loop is only player to provide world class services at cheap rates.
        Airtel 100% hike rates after acquiring Loop Mobile.

        • Harshad September 5, 2013 2:25 pm

          World class services??? I’d liken Loop to poop!

          Outdated bhangaar network..no 3G!

  • Manoj Bole September 2, 2013 11:39 pm

    Though Loop is cheap as compared to other operators, sadly the internet performance is pathetic in Mumbai. Speed of internet is very slow. Have complained twice for this but to no avail.
    I ported from Idea to Loop especially for data services and now I am stuck with this till the Guard Time is over.

    • Duane Bayliss September 3, 2013 10:09 am

      @MANOJ – before you port, its always advisable to buy a Rs 5 SIM Card (the ones sold under colourful umbrellas) – this will allow you to get Rs 25-30 talktime which is sufficient to determine how good/bad the VOICE/SMS/DATA services on a network are. I follow this logic on all my port numbers BEFORE I port, and strongly recommend it to friends.

  • Arif September 2, 2013 11:27 pm

    Hey if this happen I will convert my Loop postpaid to prepaid.

    • Duane Bayliss September 2, 2013 11:38 pm

      How silly! In that case all the customers of :
      MODI TELSTRA (KOL) should have done so when SPICE came in
      SPICE (KOL) should have done so when AIRTEL came in
      SPICE (KK) should have done so when IDEA came in
      COMMAND (KOL) should have done so when HUTCH came in
      HUTCH (KOL) should have done so when VODAFONE came in
      the list is endless…

  • Kashif September 2, 2013 9:37 pm

    Very bad news… BPL Now Loop Mobile is only the cheapest and best network in Mumbai… one of the oldest mobile service. Loop should be continue as it is… They (Airtel) will increase the call charges and other service charges.. Presently i am paying rupees 99/- as a rental and i am getting 200 local minut and 200 local national sms 1 GB internet and .20 paisa for Loop calling .40 paisa other and .30 paisa for sms along with group calling free…

    very good and Cheapest mobile service Good Luck

  • Kaushik Roy September 2, 2013 9:12 pm

    First sign of consolidation in indian telecom sector
    It will help Airtel to be No 1 operator in Mumbai
    Then it will have 900 MHz band in all metros

    • Duane Bayliss September 2, 2013 11:39 pm

      Yes ! Lets hope it happens soon. INDIA has way too many operators – refer to article on same posted a few days ago!

  • Sam September 2, 2013 8:42 pm

    Loop’s customer care for postpaid subscribers is second to none. Long time subscriber of BPL, if this deal goes through, I’ll be the first to port out. Too many bad experiences with airtel.

    Also, wasn’t there a rule, that prevented operators from buying another operator if the former has a license in the same circle?

    • Duane Bayliss September 3, 2013 10:12 am

      @ SAM – why LOOP may have god customer service (for its postpaid customers) how many time do you *really* need to call Customer Service? I mean, think about it : stats in the Indian Telecom Industry indicate 35-37% of UNIQUE customers actually call customer service – this means the majority of 65-63% DO NOT CALL. So is the CUSTOMER SERVICE really a driving factor to PORT IN and CHOOSE a network? I know not for me, as I use a mobile to call FRIENDS – and not DAILY CALLS TO CUSTOMER CARE… thats mainly for people with Rs 2-Rs5 balance!

      • Sam September 3, 2013 7:09 pm

        Two instances in recent times. One was regarding a Sim replacement, and other regarding roaming. Sent an email and received excellent service both times.

        Contrast this with airtel, wherein I’d had a though time getting my fixed line terminated, that being one such instance.

        So, yes, for me, customer service is an important factor, apart from network quality :)

  • imahesh September 2, 2013 8:39 pm

    its bad news.
    Currently I am paying Rs 28 for 2GB internet for 30 days.
    If airtel aquire loop then Rs 98 for 650 MB only. And also dus ka gang also stops.
    Its true loop provide network to Vodafone, docomo, reliance and uninor previously in Mumbai. Specially in Navi Mumbai for Vodafone.

    • Duane Bayliss September 3, 2013 1:17 pm

      @ IMAHESH yes IF Airtel acquires Loop, then all products/services/offerings would be standardised.

  • Shashee.mane September 2, 2013 6:50 pm

    I am enjoying loop postpaid rs.49 loop to loop free.. I think pack will go up if such happens..

  • SS September 2, 2013 6:21 pm

    Hey Duane,

    You got me wrong. I am not complaining about the service quality of airtel as I also feel airtel offers one the finest service in India.

    I was pointing out the problems faced by Idea currently after it acquired spice telecom in Punjab.

    • Duane Bayliss September 2, 2013 11:43 pm

      SS whenever there are LEGACY networks acquired they will be issues/challenges.
      With time same would be sorted out.
      I recall when MODI TELSTRA became SPICE there were major issues (as incoming calls had been made free in 2001 in Kolkata then and all lines were jammed).
      I also recall SPICE became AIRTEL – then too the networ s@#$%^d up – from NOKIA it was changed to SIEMENS in Kolkata and there were “guaranteed” call ddisconnections @ 4min05 sec

      THERE WILL BE PROBLEMS – NO ONE IS PERFECT
      HOWEVER THEY WILL BE CORRECTED.

  • Dr Lambinagh September 2, 2013 4:56 pm

    Its about time someone used there spectrum to the fullest. Been an airtel customer since 1998 and love the company. They are the most innovative bunch out there, Voda and Idea aint bad either, the rest of the players suck. I have a friend who took a number from reliance and he got so fed up with them that he was on the verge of throwing his phone against the wall. He is now on airtel and stress free, sure there is no perfect operator out there, but I would stick to the choice made by many Indians, the big three deserve all the credit for being the pillars of the telecom industry. Airtel Rules.

    • Duane Bayliss September 2, 2013 11:45 pm

      @ Dr Lambinagh – I am glad to see someone who stands up for AIRTEL and the quality it strives to deliver (instead of all the lame whiners who howl whenever there is a 1p to 1.2 p hike). Like you said : AIRTEL RULES.

      • Dr Lambinagh September 3, 2013 1:41 am

        Ya man. We have the cheapest call rates in the world and we have better quality than alot of developed nations out there. Customers are too superficial as the choice of telecom products have been provided too fast to them, unlike say USA where mobile telephony evolved thru time and innovation phases, where as in india we have gone from 2G to 4G launched in the country in like less than 2 decades. If anything ,the old school players like Airtel have the drive to keep up with the world and provide great service. Exciting days ahead for telecom, the govt needs to help sort out issues so this sector can get back its past glory. Enough said.

  • Saurabh September 2, 2013 4:05 pm

    Recently Reliance had tie-up with Loop to use their network in Mumbai. I don’t think Airtel will allow Reliance to use after merger. Rivalry problem. :D

    • umesh September 2, 2013 6:59 pm

      Even tata Docomo(mumbai/maharashtra sim) uses loop network in mumbai. i want uninor to buy loop and return back to mumbai !

      • Pratham September 3, 2013 1:37 am

        Yes i agree Uninor should come back in Mumbai again Sabse sasta. Even uninor used to share loop network along with videocon (till jan13) and Tata/VIRGIN/T24 customers till now

    • SS September 2, 2013 7:45 pm

      Yes Saurabh, it will really be a nightmare for Reliance who was trying to improve its network coverage. I think airtel will also cancel ICRA agreements with docomo for the same reason.

      They are too selfish in sharing their network and allow access to foreign subscribers only. Even in delhi TD and probably uninor customers can latch only on Vodafone and Idea’s network and never on airtel which has best coverage in New delhi.

      • Dr Lambinagh September 2, 2013 8:53 pm

        I may be wrong but did Airtel not just allow Mukesh Ambani to use there ILD network from chennai to Singapore for his 4g back end connectivity. Also idea and voda and Airtel share infrastructure, last time I checked idea is an Indian company. Also lets be practical I think there is a spectrum crunch in the market and since loop doesn’t have that many customers and some unused spectrum they r leasing it.

        • Duane Bayliss September 3, 2013 11:14 am

          Good one Dr, the facts speak for themselves :-)

  • Esmail September 2, 2013 4:03 pm

    Front page News in today’s Economic times!
    Only reason AirTel is eyeing Loop is for the 8MHz of spectrum it holds in 900MHz band in Mumbai. I’m just hoping that Empowered group of ministers consider Vodafone’s proposal to put up the Extended GSM band for auction to ease up the 900MHz refarming issues coming up from spectrum crunch and stern resistance from the incumbents. since CDMA is so unpopular in India it makes sense to open up the 850MHz band for GSM since it has more takers due to its efficiency.

    • Duane Bayliss September 2, 2013 4:35 pm

      @ ESMAIL its not only the Spectrum – 30% of LOOP mobile customers are LOYAL (High-ARPU) customers using POSTPAID – which is much more than Idea/Airtel (new operators in Mumbai). So, apart from Spectrum, its high-revenue 30% base that Airtel will gain – IF – the merger happens.

      • S.Sudhakar September 2, 2013 6:51 pm

        I am from Tamilnadu. Just to discuss. Will there be two airtel networks in mumbai after merging?. What about the existing airtel network?.

        • pradeep September 2, 2013 11:01 pm

          ACTUALLY DUDE…
          they will acquire all the customer and spectrum..
          thats it :)
          not 2 airtel only one airtel the will merge with loop

        • Duane Bayliss September 2, 2013 11:48 pm

          @ Sudhakar – IF the merger becomes a REALITY – both the existing AIRTEL network (1800MHz) and the acquired LOOP network (900MHz) can be easily merged. This is similar to the DELHI coverage – where AIRTEL was the 1st operator to use BOTH 900 and 1800 MHz frequencies.!

    • Tharun George September 3, 2013 12:22 pm

      Most triband entry level phones support only GSM 900 / 1800 / 1900. Will be a challenge for both companies and consumers.

  • SS September 2, 2013 2:05 pm

    Now Loop customers will also have to face airtel- the costliest operator of india.

    I am also afraid of the same problems that is faced by Idea currently in Punjab.

    • Duane Bayliss September 2, 2013 4:39 pm

      What problems SS ? I have used both IDEA (WB) as well as AIRTEL (KOL, WB, AP) and have not had any problems. In fact, even compared to International networks – DU/ETISALAT (UAE) and Vodafone (UK) – the services provided by Airtel (India) are among the finest one can hope for!

      • bharath kumar September 2, 2013 9:58 pm

        Idea is good now a days.. its already expended allover rural and urbans, idea 3g already available in rurals and urban.. wher ever they got licence.. punjab is a big problem.. case is court.

        • Duane Bayliss September 3, 2013 11:16 am

          @ BHARAT – all the 3 majors – Airtel/Idea/Vodafone are “good”
          depends on the end-customer, if he/she is OK paying a premium (vis a vis the others like Aircel, Tata Docomo et al) for this “good” service.