Aircel might be stepping onto another legal battle as Idea Cellular and Vodafone India gear up to take action against the telecom company which is already under the weight of bankruptcy. Airtel and Idea might be the first companies to take such a step in these regards, according to the people following the matter. The two major telcos are taking this drastic step to recover their dues from Aircel. According to a report from Economic Times, Aircel owes approximately Rs 60 crores and also the interconnect usage charges (IUC) to Idea Cellular. Also, Aircel owes a similar due to the telecom giant Vodafone India.
Aircel which is owned by Malaysia’s Maxis might find itself surrounded in legal battles from two of the biggest telecom giants in the country if it fails to pay back the dues in right time. Speaking from anonymous sources, the two big telcos already have started laying out the ground plan for legal proceedings.
Deloitte’s Vijaykumar V Iyer, who has been appointed as the Interim Resolution Professional, will be the one overseeing the dues payback if the two operators approach the company for the same. In the case of any dispute arising regarding the matter, the two claimant telcos would have to step forward to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) then.
On being questioned regarding the same Iyer kept silence about the matter saying “We are bound by confidentiality obligations and are unable to comment on client-specific matters,” as reported by ET.
Owing to the hefty amount of due, both the top telecom companies Idea Cellular and Vodafone India who happen to be in the middle of a merger right now have already put a hold on their services (interconnection) for Aircel. This means that Aircel customers will not be able to make calls on Idea or Vodafone network, and vice versa.
Less than two weeks ago, Aircel moved to the NCLT’s bench in Mumbai to file a petition which demanded Bankruptcy protection for the telecom operator. Aircel’s falling revenue, dwindling profitability and cash flow problems along with a total debt of Rs 50,000 crores out of which Rs 19,889 crores Aircel owed to operational lenders further pushed them to approach NCLT to appeal for bankruptcy.
Aircel previously made attempts to overcome the hars h finance conditions by looking for alternative ways but RBI’s decision to scrap loan recast scheme rendered the telecom giant with no option but to file for bankruptcy under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. This major blow to the company came after the banks had accepted Aircel’s plea of undergoing strategic debt restructuring.
Now it comes upon the shoulders of the IRP (Interim Resolution Professional) to carry out the left-over operations on the company’s behalf, look over the unpaid dues and seek out ways to repay the owed debt.
The Tribunal had an interesting statement to make as they said that the reason tribunal accepted Aircel’s plea was because they considered the business to be revivable given that the telecom giant owned assets worth more than Rs 32,000 crores, including spectrums and telecom licenses.
This battle against the two big telcos isn’t the only legal battle Aircel happens to be fighting. Swedish company Ericsson has also moved to Delhi High Court against Aircel and its units for recovery of arrears worth Rs 251.40 crore. Tower firms GTL Infrastructure and American Tower Corp too had earlier moved to Delhi High Court to seek recovery of Rs 912 crore and Rs 224 crore respectively from Aircel. Given that so many other firms are circling around Aircel to recover their unpaid dues, situations look bleak for the debt-ridden giant.