Reliance Communications (RCom), the ailing private telecom operator, has reportedly approached the telecom ministry to surrender a part of its spectrum holdings in the 1,800-MHz frequency in four circles Mumbai, Karnataka, Haryana, and Punjab and has been purchased. The telco had bought 0.6 MHz spectrum in Mumbai for around Rs 160 crore, Karnataka for Rs 108 crore, Punjab for Rs 42 crore and Haryana for Rs 27 crore.
According to a report in the Times of India on Friday, the Anil Ambani-led telecom venture has sought a refund of some of the payments, which have been made. The report added that the move, upon approval from the Indian government, will allow RCom to “escape paying the instalments towards the purchase of spectrum that it now wants to surrender.”
RCom has already made down-payments for the circles at the time of the purchase. For Mumbai, it paid the first instalment this year, while for other three circles, the instalments start only from next year, the TOI report said, citing sources.
According to the government rules, 33% of the bid amount has to be paid immediately, while the rest of the money (including interest outgo) has to be paid over a 10-year period following a moratorium of two years.
The debt-laden telecom operator recently said that it would pay Rs 14,000 from proceeds of the Aircel deal, and Rs 11,000 crore from the Brookfield transaction to lenders before December 2017. RCom also plans to monetize part of its real estate to raise Rs 6,000 crore, and reduce overall debt from Rs 20,000 crore to Rs 14,000 crore.