Bharti Airtel expressed interest in buying some of Reliance Communications’ (RCom) spectrum and telecoms equipment being sold by a group of local and international banks to recover part of an INR450 billion ($6.93 billion) debt RCom owes them, The Economic Times (ET) reported.
RCom’s assets, which include highly valuable 800MHz spectrum along with network equipment and fibre cables, attracted interest from many players, including Indus Tower, Bharti Infratel and Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management, the newspaper said.
The operator also owns spectrum in the 1.8GHz and 2.3GHz bands, and holds a spectrum sharing arrangement with Reliance Jio in the 800MHz band.
A source told ET buyers likely wouldn’t aggressively bid for the spectrum as most operators have sufficient spectrum holdings after the last auction, held in October 2016.
The banks appointed SBI Capital Markets, the investment banking arm of the State Bank of India (RCom’s largest lender) to manage the asset sale, which will likely see the various parts sold off piecemeal, ET said. Buyers have until 12 December to submit non-binding offers.
Indian press reports in October indicated RCom was planning to shutter major parts of its wireless business in November, due to increased competition in the Indian market and a failed merger bid for Aircel. RCom blamed the failed deal on “inordinate delays caused by legal and regulatory uncertainties”.