After the debt-ridden telecom giants, Aircel and Reliance Communications (RCom) hit the wall of poor financials, distributors of these telcos have alleged that they have not been paid appropriately and the payment that they have received is a fraction of what the original dues are. The Anil Ambani led telco has asked its distributors to wait for a couple of weeks while the company hastens the process of settlement. On the other hand, the bankrupt telco, Aircel has reimbursed even less than 10% of the total amount to the distributors citing reasons like some distributors have refused the settlement.
However, an anonymous official gave a tip that the settlement which has been made by Aircel is indeed the final one. Adnan Khan, a distributor of Aircel in both Mumbai and Maharashtra circle, was given a meagre amount of Rs 4,000 against the original dues of Rs 11 lakh which the telco owed to the distributor. The distributor said “They said they are paying me for Rs 1.25 lakh worth of stocks for the Mumbai agency while there is no payment offered for the two agencies in the Maharashtra circle, where I have stocks worth Rs 10 lakh.”
As per an ET report, a lot of distributors have refused from signing on a stamp paper which said “…we shall not raise any further demands or claims on the company or the RP, in any manner whatsoever seeking any payments, reimbursement, substitution or reinstatement, other than filing a claim in the prescribed format….”
One of the distributors also said to ET that there was a lot of chaos while filling up the form since there was no assistance provided while the forms were issued to the distributors. He further said, “Are we operational creditors, general creditors – there’s no one to tell us.”
When posed with questions from ET, both Aircel and Reliance Communications refused to give any comments. Aircel hit insolvency in March and the Anil Ambani led telco had to shut down its wireless operations in December of 2017 due to excessive competition from the other telecom companies.
A similar story was told by Jaikee Dhamejani, who is an RCom distributor for the past ten years. He was informed by the company that his amount of Rs 5 lakh would be settled by the end of two weeks. RCom is awaiting clearance from authorities for the selling of its wireless assets to Reliance Jio Infocomm which will fetch the telco Rs 18,000 crore using which the telco will attempt to pare a debt of Rs 46,000 crore.
Another Aircel distributor, who had been in business since 2009, Digvijay S Kadam, accepted the miniscule amount of Rs 5,000 which was paid to him while the actual amount owed by the telco was a couple of lakhs. He said “I accepted because this was better than nothing. Also, we were told if there was any issue, we can approach our lawyers, but now who has the money to wage a legal battle against the telco and the IRP?”
The appointed IRP Deloitte’s Vijaykumar Iyer, who is responsible for debt restructuring in the company told the committee of creditors meeting that they cannot hope to repay the loan of worth Rs 19,000 crore unless the company brings Rs 200 crore on the table to rerun the operations and keep the infrastructure going.
When ET enquired about the same, the IRP said: “We are bound by confidentiality obligations and are unable to comment on client-specific matters.”
Aircel’s situation looks grim since the last payment of Rs 95 crore which was made by its promotor Maxis was already spent on giving out salaries and meeting operational expenses by the bankrupt telco.
Arpit spends his day closely following the telecom and tech industry. A music connoisseur and a night owl, he also takes a deep interest in the Indian technology start-up scene and spends rest of his time spilling poetry and stories on paper.