The Delhi bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has approved Bharti Airtel’s acquisition of Tata Teleservices’ consumer mobility business, a deal that will enable the Sunil Mittal-led telco to close the market share gap with leader Vodafone Idea besides bolstering its 4G airwares portfolio to take on Reliance Jio Infocomm more effectively.
“The NCLT’s Delhi principal bench, vide its order dated January 17, has sanctioned the composite scheme of arrangement between Tata Teleservices, Bharti Airtel and Bharti Hexacom and their respective shareholders and creditors under Sections 230 to 232 of the Companies Act, 2013,” the Sunil Mittal-led telco said in a regulatory filing on BSE.
NCLT’s Mumbai bench has already cleared the scheme last month.
The deal now needs clearance only from the telecom department (DoT).
The Bharti Airtel stock was down 0.16% at Rs 310.45 on BSE in late afternoon trade. Shares of Tata Teleservices, in turn, were down 2.51% to Rs 3.88 on BSE.
Under the terms of the deal, Bharti Airtel will take care of roughly Rs 1,500-2,000 crore of the Rs 10,000 crore spectrum auction-related payments that Tata Teleservices needs to make to the government over the next few years.
But the DoT wasn’t convinced and demanded further clarity. So, late October, Airtel and TTSL, in a letter to the DoT, said the Sunil Mittal-promoted company would take care of the payment, including towards licence fee, spectrum usage charge and one-time spectrum charge. But the Airtel payment would in effect be bankrolled by Tata Sons.
Back in October 2017, Tata Teleservices had inked a term sheet to transfer its consumer mobility business to Bharti Airtel. Under the transfer pact, Airtel will acquire Tata Teleservices’ wireless business – with around 20 million customers, majority of its employees and some 178.5 units of airwaves – across 19 circles on a cash-free, debt free basis. Nearly 40% of the Tata airwaves that Airtel will receive are 4G-LTE ready.
At present, Airtel’s overall spectrum holdings across the 900 Mhz, 1800 Mhz, 2100 Mhz and 2300 Mhz bands are at 1,086 units.
The Bharti Airtel-Tata Tele deal has already received statutory approvals from the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and Securities Exchange Board of India (Sebi).
Closure of the merger deal will also reportedly provide Bharti Airtel with an indefeasible right to use (IRU) - or the first right to use - for part of the existing fibre network of the Tatas.