India's 3G spectrum winners pay out $14b

Dylan Bushell-Embling
03 Jun 2010

Seven Indian operators have paid up for spectrum won during the recent 3G auction, swelling the government's coffers by 677.2 billion rupees ($14.4 billion).

Operators reportedly borrowed a collective 450 billion rupees to raise funds for the fees, triggering fears of a cash crunch as banks scrambled to improve liquidity.

Bharti Airtel paid the most, laying out 122.9 billion rupees for licenses in 13 of India's 22 telecom circles, Business Standardsaid. Vodafone laid out 116.2 billion rupees for nine circles, and state-owned BSNL 10.2 billion for 20 circles.

Reliance paid 85.8 billion rupees for 13 circles, while Tata paid 58.6 billion for nine circles and Aircel had already paid 65 billion for 13 circles.

The other state-owned operator – MTNL – paid 65.6 billion rupees for its two circles of operation, Delhi and Mumbai. To help fund the purchase, the operator borrowed 25 billion rupees from Axis Bank in a short term loan.

The State Bank of India said it had the money in place to meet the borrowing demands.

The 3G auction lasted 34 days and 183 rounds. It raised nearly twice the amount expected. Nine players had participated in the auction, but none succeeded in procuring pan-Indian spectrum.

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