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12 October 2017, 10:26 | Lucia Cruz
Tata Teleservices to merge its Consumer Mobile Business with Bharti Airtel
Bharti Airtel, which will be taking on Tata's Rs 10,000 crore spectrum liability, said the merger will bolster its spectrum in 1800, 2100 & 850 MHz bands, all widely used for 4G. The new entrant Reliance Jio has fast grown to 130 million customers since its launch past year.
The merger will also provide Bharti Airtel the right to use Tata's existing fiber network.
In further consolidation of the Indian telecom industry, Bharti Airtel on Thursday entered into an agreement to acquire the mobile operations of troubled Tata Teleservices on a no-debt, no-cash basis.
On Monday, Chandrasekaran had admitted to news outlet CNBC's local associate that the group's mobile business was in a "really bad shape", struggling under a huge debt pile.
The price war has led to major losses for most carriers, and spurred India's banking regulator - the Reserve Bank of India -to ask banks to review their telecoms sector exposure and boost their provisioning for any loans made to the sector.
Goldman Sachs advised Tata on the Bharti Airtel deal.
As of end-March, Tata Teleservices and its unit had combined debt of Rs 34,089 crore ($5.24 billion) excluding sums due to the government for spectrum purchases, according to local ratings agency Crisil, which also said Tata Teleservices' net loss almost doubled in the year to March, to Rs 4,617 crore.
Tata and Bharti Airtel will work together to further explore other mutual areas of cooperation, that will be value accretive for both the Groups, the statement said.
NTT Docomo would not have exited from India if Tata Teleservices was a profit making business and did not put pressure on its financials in Japan. The Boards of Tata Sons, TTSL and TTML, too, have given their approval.
"It's evident disruption is picking up and consolidation is the game of the hour", he said, adding that he expects even more deals in the crowded sector.
Tata could not compete with established players - Airtel, Idea Cellular and Vodafone and Reliance Jio - in the highly competitive telecom market.
The Karbonn A40 Indian phones come with a retail tag of 3,499 rupees, but Bharti Airtel customers can buy them for an upfront payment of 2,899 rupees and receive cashback of 1,500 rupees.
Tata will retain its stake in Viom and take care of associated liabilities.
Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran had recently conceded that the groups mobile business Tata Teleservices is in a "really bad shape" and that a "tough call" will have to be taken on the business in this financial year.
Without giving the exact number of employees being transferred to Airtel, he admitted that the Sunil Bharti Mittal firm may look at optimisation of staff on ground after the merger.
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