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Dispute Over Dues To Be Settled In 10 Days, RCom Tells SC

After non-payment of dues since 2016, Ericsson moved the NCLT under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code against RCom and its two subsidiaries.

Reliance Communications Ltd (RCom) told the Supreme Court on Thursday that it will settle its dispute over dues with telecom equipment manufacturer Ericsson India Pvt. Ltd in 10 days.

The apex court was hearing a contempt plea by Ericsson for non-payment of ₹550 crore by RCom by the 30 September deadline.

RCom moved the top court on 19 March seeking a stay on orders by Bombay High Court and the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), barring it from selling its wireless assets to Reliance Jio without the court’s prior approval. The company was joined as a co-petitioner by State Bank of India, which approached the court on 20 March seeking approval for the sale of RCom’s assets to Reliance Jio.

The National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) on 30 May stayed a corporate insolvency resolution process initiated against Anil Ambani-owned RCom and two group companies, Reliance Infratel and Reliance Telecom.

The NCLAT order came after Ericsson India, which had initiated the insolvency proceedings, accepted RCom’s offer to pay ₹550 crore by 30 September.

Ericsson had signed a seven-year deal with RCom in 2014 to operate and manage its nationwide telecom network. After alleged non-payment of dues since 2016, Ericsson moved NCLT under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code against RCom and group companies, Reliance Infratel and Reliance Telecom, in September 2017. With the insolvency process stayed, RCom can now go ahead with its ₹18,100-crore deal with Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio for the sale of its assets mortgaged with different banks to bring down debt.

Part of the deal with respect to the stay on sale of tower and fibre assets was cleared by the appellate tribunal on 29 May after Reliance Infratel’s offshore investors and minority shareholder HSBC Daisy Investments (Mauritius) Ltd decided to withdraw their objections to the sale.

A stay imposed by Bombay High Court on the sale of the other assets—spectrum, media convergence nodes and real estate (at New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Jigni and Tirupati)—was vacated by the Supreme Court on 5 April. RCom and its subsidiaries have total outstanding debt of ₹45,000 crore.

The case will be heard next on 9 October.

Reliance Group companies have sued HT Media Ltd, Mint’s publisher, and nine others in Bombay high court over a 2 October 2014 front-page story that they have disputed. HT Media is contesting the case. – Live Mint

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