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Airtel, Infratel among 6 bidders for RCom assets; Jio stays away

Jio is said to have asked RCom’s RP for a 10-day extension of the Nov 11 deadline for submission of bids.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Nov 13, 2019, 06.15 AM IST
Airtel has placed conditional bid to buy spectrum of RCom while Bharti Infratel has submitted bids for mobile towers, a Bharti spokesperson said.
NEW DELHI|KOLKATA: Bharti Airtel, Bharti Infratel and private equity firm Varde Partners are among six companies that have bid for the assets of bankrupt telco Reliance Communications and its units Reliance Telecom and Reliance Infratel, although Reliance Jio Infocomm was conspicuously absent.

Mukesh Ambani-led Jio is said to have asked RCom’s resolution professional for a 10-day extension of the November 11 deadline for submission of bids, a person with direct knowledge of the matter said.

RCom’s committee of creditors is scheduled to open the bids on November 13.

The National Company Law Tribunal had directed Deloitte, the resolution professional overseeing the affairs of RCom and its two units, to conclude the sale of assets by January 10, 2020.

Jio was reportedly among a dozen-odd companies that had submitted expressions of interest earlier this year for the assets of RCom and its units.

A Bharti spokesperson confirmed that “a conditional bid has been submitted primarily for the spectrum, which is a precious asset.”

The bid conditions, he said, “include that the overall consideration will primarily be by way of the deferred spectrum payables to the government being passed on to us on terms and schedules applicable to such deferred payments.”.

At press time, ET’s queries to RCom’s RP and Reliance Jio remained unanswered, while Varde Partners declined comment.

RCom and its units keeled over under Rs 46,000 crore of debt and are currently undergoing insolvency proceedings with their assets up for sale. Spectrum in 14 of India’s 22 telecom circles, some 43,000 telecom towers housed under Reliance Infratel and some fibre networks and real estate assets are up for sale.

RCom Group’s total secured debt is estimated at Rs 33,000 crore.

The bankrupt telco has been waging legal battles against the Department of Telecommunications and other operational creditors over dues. Lenders – financial and operational – are reckoned to have put in claims worth almost Rs 90,000 crore against the telco.

Earlier, Jio had almost acquired RCom’s wireless assets before DoT red-flagged the transaction, citing lack of clarity over who would assume liabilities related to its bandwidth. RCom filed for bankruptcy after it failed to complete the transaction.

RCom had previously sold some of its optic fibre and related assets for Rs 3,000 crore and media convergence nodes and related infrastructure for Rs 2,000 crore to Jio.

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