DoT conditionally approves Airtel-TTSL merger

15 Apr 2019

India's Department of Telecom (DoT) has conditionally approved Bharti Airtel's planned acquisition of Tata Teleservices (TTSL) on the condition that the operator provide a bank guarantee of around 85 billion rupees ($1.23 billion).

Bharti Airtel received conditional approval for the merger last week, the Hindu Business Linereported, citing unnamed sources.

The approval of the DoT was stipulated as a requirement for the merger by the National Company Law Tribunal in January.

But according to the report, Airtel may approach the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) opposing the demand for a bank guarantee.

The operator had already used the TDSAT to successfully appeal against a demand to pay a bank guarantee during its acquisition of Telenor India last year. But the DoT has appealed the decision with the Supreme Court.

Airtel and Tata Teleservices are facing nearly 150 billion rupees in spectrum charges as a condition of their proposed merger, which was first announced in October 2017.

The merger agreement covers all customers and assets of Tata’s consumer mobile business, including 178.5 MHz of spectrum across the 850-MHz, 1800-MHz and 2100-MHz bands. If the merger materializes, it will mark Tata Group's exit from the consumer telecommunications business.

Image credit: iStock Photo

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