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DoT okays Airtel-Telenor Merger; Here is How the Deal Unfolded

The department of telecommunications (DoT) has approved the merger of Bharti Airtel and Telenor India.

All customers of Telenor India would become part of Airtel’s. The latter will get 43.4 MHz of spectrum in the 1,800 MHz band from Telenor.

This comes a few days after the Supreme Court dismissed DoT’s petition against telecom tribunal TDSAT asking the government to clear the merger without insisting on a bank guarantee of about Rs 15 billion from Airtel for one-time spectrum charges — this was for holding of spectrum beyond 4.4 MHz.

A DoT notification said with approval of the merger, all assets and liabilities pertaining to Telenor India stand transferred to Bharti Airtel. “The present merger is taken on record without prejudice to the rights, contentions, remedies and steps which may be taken by the department, in pursuance of any subsequent orders, judgements or decisions,” it said.

Airtel will acquire Telenor India’s operations in seven of the country’s 22 telecom circles — Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat, UP (East), UP (West) and Assam. These represent high population concentration and, therefore, offer high potential for growth.

After the deal’s approval, Airtel will formally buy Telenor India in a no-cash deal and take over its spectrum payment dues of about Rs 16.5 billion. The deal will bolster its spectrum holding to 979.45 MHz (all bands) and narrow its revenue and subscriber market share gap with the coming Vodafone-Idea Cellular combine.

The Vodafone-Idea merger will be approved soon by DoT. It would create the country’s largest mobile telecom operator, with a subscriber base of a little over 400 million. Followed by Airtel with 330 mn customers. Vodafone-Idea will lead the market with the highest revenue share of about 37 per cent, followed by Airtel with 32.3 per cent.

– Business Standard

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