Bharti Airtel, India's top telecom service provider by subscribers has reportedly confirmed that it is now eyeing struggling telco Reliance Communications' select spectrum and some equipment. Airtel, if succeeds, would be able to bolster its spectrum holdings in the country. However, Reliance Jio, the 4G entrant, is also eyeing RCom's spectrum in the 850 MHz band, which is considered highly efficient for 4G services, along with the latter's tower unit and Indian fiber assets.
“We have expressed our interest only in buying select spectrum and some equipment,” a spokesperson for Bharti Airtel informed the Economic Times.
Besides Jio, a number of companies, including Indus Towers, ATC, Bharti Infratel, Brookfield Infrastructure, Sistema JSFC, Tillman Global Holdings, TPG Capital, Carlyle Group, I-Squared Capital and Gateway Partners have shown interest to buy RCom’s tower unit, various media outlets reported.
RCom's lenders comprising several local and international banks have appointed SBI Cap to seek interests for the telco’s assets. The ET report said that lenders have already issued a request for proposals (RFPs) for assets including spectrum, network equipment and fibre assets. These lenders are in a process to sell RCom's assets to recover some portions of the roughly Rs 45,000 crore that it owes them.
“Expression of interest (EoIs) have come from practically everyone. Now, they have three weeks to submit non-binding offers — by December 12-13 — and then based on the numbers (bid value), the due diligence will take place,” a source was quoted as saying.
RCom is currently undergoing strategic debt restructuring (SDR). It had last month presented a zero write-off plan to lenders under which banks can convert some its debt and take a 51% stake in the telecom company. The telco currently has a debt worth Rs 44,000 crore. It recently announced that it was exiting the wireless business and will adopt a 4G-only focussed approach. RCom also confirmed that other buyers could also bid to purchase the RCom assets. The operator is looking to offer mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) as a full-fledged 4G operator. Currently, RCom is working towards scrapping its 2G and 3G business.
RCom's consolidated loss widened to Rs 2709 crore for the quarter that ended on September 30 from Rs 1210 crore in the previous quarter. Notably, the Anil Ambani-led telco had posted a profit of Rs 62 crore during the same period last year. RCom’s total income declined 48% to Rs 2667 crore when compared to the same period last year.