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RCom Files Contempt Of Court Plea Against DoT For Not Approving Asset Sale

Reliance Communications’ (RCom) December 2017 asset sale deal with Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd continues to face delays with yet another legal tangle cropping up. On December 3, RCom’s subsidiary Reliance Realty had furnished the corporate guarantee of Rs 1,400 crore to the Department of Telecom, as directed by the Supreme Court in end-November.

As per the said order, DoT was to approve the spectrum trading within a week of receiving the corporate guarantee. But eight days on, with no sign of the approval for the sale, the Anil Ambani company has filed a contempt of court petition in the top court, The Economic Times reported.

RCom’s urgency over the spectrum sale is understandable since a lot is riding on the deal, which will allow it to partially clear its debt of about Rs 46,000 crore, reportedly owed to 39 lenders. According to the daily, it wants to use part of the proceeds to pay a combined Rs 975 crore to Ericsson, an operational creditor, and HSBC Daisy Investments and others, as well as the minority shareholders in Reliance Infratel by December, a deadline mandated by the apex court. If RCom does not meet the deadline, it might even be dragged to the bankruptcy court.

Reacting to the development, the shares of RCom dipped 2.17% today, after closing 6.06% down on the BSE on Monday.

The stuck spectrum sale is reportedly part of a larger Rs 18,000-crore asset monetisation exercise by RCom, involving the sale of switching nodes, fibre, telecom towers and spectrum to Jio, and real estate to Canada’s Brookfield. The nodes and fibre have been sold for Rs 5,000 crore.

For its part, the DoT is insisted that approval for the spectrum sale can be granted only after the due diligence is complete. “The approval will happen very soon, but we need to do our checks on the corporate guarantee before agreeing to anything,” a DoT official told the daily. RCom has been locked in a legal battle over DoT’s demand for spectrum-related dues worth nearly Rs 3,000 crore for many months. – Business Today

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