Airtel-Tata Tele deal gets CCI approval

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New Delhi: Bharti Airtel Ltd’s proposed acquisition of consumer mobile business of Tata Teleservices Ltd and Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) Ltd has been approved, according to the latest update on the Competition Commission of India’s (CCI) website.

The deal comes at a time when the telecom sector, bruised by tariff war and mounting losses, is in a consolidation mode as major players seek to cement their position.

An Airtel spokesperson declined to comment on the CCI approval for the Tata Tele acquisition.

The Airtel-Tata Tele deal now needs the approval of Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), stock exchanges, and the telecom department, among others.

The Tata Tele deal is Airtel’s seventh acquisition in five years. Last month, Airtel had announced acquisition of Tata Group’s mobile telephony business, almost for free, a move that would boost its spectrum holding and raise subscriber base while saving the Tatas from the prospect of having to shut down the struggling unit.

With the transaction, the country’s largest telecom operator will take over 4 crore customers of Tata Teleservices Ltd and Tata Teleservices Maharashtra Ltd in 19 telecom circles or zones on “a debt-free cash-free basis”.

As part of the agreement, Tata Teleservices and Tata Teleservices (Maharashtra) employees in the 19 circles, managing the consumer mobile business, along with 178.5 MHz of spectrum across 800, 1800, 2100 Mhz (3G, 4G) bands would be transferred to Airtel. While all of the Rs31,000 crore debt will remain with the Tatas, Airtel will assume close to 20% of the Rs9,000-10,000 crore deferred payments for the spectrum.

On Thursday, shares of Bharti Airtel rose 0.52% to Rs489.90 on the BSE while the benchmark Sensex rose 1.06% to end the day at 33,106.82 points.