Struggling telecom operator Aircel’s move to not look for any consolidation or sell off the business could pay off very soon as Malaysia’s Maxis Bhd is still committed to investing in its loss-making entity Aircel. So far, the Ananda Krishnan-led Maxis has invested $7 billion since starting the services, but the company is yet to make any returns.
A report from Economic Times says that “Maxis may invest at least $500 million, but the number could even double to $1.1billion, depending on the company’s final debt-resolution plan to fund capital expenditure and even buy back key tower infrastructure.”
It is also said that Aircel’s lenders are currently in the process of reviewing plans to restructure the company’s Rs 15,500 crore debt. That said, Aircel has so far reduced its debt by Rs 13,000 crore by selling out its 4G airwaves to Airtel keeping in mind that its merger with Reliance Communications will go through. Recently, Anil Ambani-led RCom lapsed the merger with Aircel blaming regulators for taking more time than usual for approving the merger.
Furthermore, the report added that Aircel is still actively in talks with Airtel for a network sharing deal under the ICR agreement, but Aircel ruled out such allegations recently saying that the company can still sustain the market without any help. “The promoter is committed to putting in more money. Aircel’s restructuring options under facilities such as strategic debt restructuring remain open”, said a person to the publication.
Aircel has a strong presence in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, Jammu & Kashmir, Assam and the Northeast circles, where customers choose the operator based on services. And in some circles such as Bihar, UP (East), Rajasthan, and Karnataka, it has customers looking for value for money tariff plans. “We are investing in circles that are doing well. The focus now lies on increasing Aircel’s capacity to offer data services,” said the same person.
Having said that, Aircel is the only small telecom operator left out in the market at the moment. Another recent report added that Aircel could sustain until March 2018 without any issues, then it would be looking out for a potential buyer. However, on numerous occasions, Aircel admitted to the media that it would continue offering operations like how it’s offering now.