Airtel linked to bid for embattled RCom's spectrum and network assets

By:
James Pearce
Published on:

Reports from India claim Bharti Airtel is one of a number of companies looking to acquire Reliance Communications' assets as the embattled operator tries to alleviate $6.8 billion of debts

Bharti Airtel is reportedly eyeing up a move to buy spectrum and equipment from Reliance Communication (RCom), which is currently offloading assets to alleviate debts of more than $6.8 billion.

RCom, owned by Anil Ambani, had been set to merge with rival Aircel but the deal fell apart in October, leading the company’s lenders to seek buyers for a number of its assets.

The sale of the spectrum is expected to see Airtel and Reliance Jio – set up by Ambani’s brother Mukesh - compete for RCom’s spectrum I the 850MHz band, according to reports in India.

India

The Economic Times reports a spokesperson for Airtel who confirmed its interest in acquiring some spectrum and equipment from its embattled rival.

“We have expressed our interest only in buying select spectrum and some equipment,” a spokesperson for Bharti Airtel said, according to the ET report.

RCom has faced a number of lawsuits from debtors including Ericsson over recent months, but the collapse of the Aircel deal led its lenders to take control from the Reliance Group by converting its debt into shares which has yet to be approved. It has already shut down a number of service in response.

The ET cites two unnamed sources who said lenders have appointed the State Bank of India (SBI) Cap to seek interest in the operator’s assets, including spectrum, equipment and fibre. Bidders have been given three weeks to submit non-binding offers.