Tata Communications in talks to buy Tata Teleservices' enterprise business

Bharti Airtel To Acquire Tata's Mobile Business But Not Its Debt

Tata Communications in talks to buy Tata Teleservices' enterprise business

Tata Teleservices will merge its consumer mobile businesses with Bharti Airtel Ltd, the companies said in a statement.

Bharti Airtel, the leading telecom company, has been successfully acquired two companies this year. Moreover, as a part of this transaction, Airtel will also be assuming a small portion of the unpaid spectrum liability of Tata towards the Department of Telecom.

India's largest mobile service provider Bharti Airtel is all set to acquire Tata Teleservices' losing making mobile business.

"This is a good deal for Airtel and enables them to potentially become very strong and dominant player in data services market", said GV Giri of IIFL.

Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman of Bharti Airtel said in a statement, "The acquisition of additional spectrum made an attractive business proposition".

The decision was taken at a meeting held between the officials of both the companies earlier today. Revenues, meanwhile were down 10 per cent to under Rs 10,000 crore. Tata Teleservices was one of the sore spots, guzzling cash while piling on debt.

"It has bank guarantees of Rs 3,700 crore submitted with DoT".

Tata Tele's debt of Rs 28,800 crore will be settled by Tata group.

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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. Finding the right home for our longstanding customers and our employees has been the priority for us. "We have evaluated multiple options and are pleased to have this agreement with Bharti".

Goldman Sachs (India) Securities Pvt Ltd acted as financial adviser to Tata.

Bharti Airtel also stands to gain from the acquisition of Tata Tele, as it will get an instant boost in the size of its customer base.

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.

"This merger is pretty much in line with industry expectations".

In February, Airtel absorbed Telenor's operations in seven circles - Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat, UP (East), UP (West) and Assam in a similar no cash deal. Although, experts also point out it may be a tough task to retain all the customers as they tend to drop out of a network as ownership or brand changes. This would help Airtel in bolstering its air-wave strength as well as narrow the gap between the proposed Vodafone-Idea merger in terms of subscriber as well as revenue market share.

"The employees of Tata will be demerged on the lines of the two businesses ie CMB and EFL (Enterprise and Fixed Line and Broadband), and post an optimal manpower planning will be moved accordingly", it added.

The $100 billion Tata Group has bid goodbye to telecom business after facing a number of hurdles on its growth path.

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