Bharti Airtel, Tata to merge consumer mobile businesses

Bharti Airtel will also have an indefeasible right to use for part of the existing fiber network of Tata

As part of the agreement, Bharti Airtel will absorb Consumer Mobile Businesses (CMB) of TTSL and TTML across the country in 19 circles (17 under TTSL and two under TTML).

The other gains for Airtel is that it gets 178.5 MHz spectrum (of which 71.3 MHz is liberalised) in the 850, 1800 and 2100 MHz bands and right to use Tata's existing fibre network.

Tata Tele's debt of Rs 28,800 crore will be settled by Tata group.

After taking Norwegian telco Telenor for virtually free earlier this year, leading operator Bharti Airtel has now acquired Tata Teleservices, taking consolidation to a new level in the stressed telecom sector. The customers of Tata will be able to enjoy India's widest and fastest voice & data network, and bouquet of Airtel's best-in-class products and services. Finding the right home for our longstanding customers and our employees has been the priority for us. "We have evaluated multiple options and are pleased to have this agreement with Bharti".

Besides Tata Tele, the Tata's also have other business entities in the media and communication space - its enterprise business, Tata Communications and Tata Sky. They have a huge debt. The venture was also incurring cash losses on a monthly basis. It may also emerge as the preferred telecom partner for the Tata Group, executives said.

In February, Tata agreed to pay NTT DoCoMo $1.18 billion to buy out the Japanese firm's stake in the telecoms joint venture, settling a long-standing dispute.

The strategy overall is part of Tata Groups plan to find a solution for the troubled mobile business of the conglomerate.

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"It's a very big positive for Tata Group and Chandra". Tata Teleservices was one of the sore spots, guzzling cash while piling on debt.

Goldman Sachs advised Tata on the deal.

In August, Tata Steel formed a joint venture with Germany's ThyssenKrupp to manage operations in Europe, after a round of sell-offs of steel plants in the United Kingdom and in continental Europe. According to a CLSA report, the answer is yes. Airtel has about 265 million customers in the country and the number will go up to 305 million after adding the 40 million customers of Tata Tele.

The announcement of the merger was made on Thursday. The new entrant Reliance Jio has fast grown to 130 million customers since its launch previous year.

Earlier this year, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular agreed to merge their operations to create the country's largest telecom operator worth of more than United States dollars 23 billion (roughly Rs 1,51,153 crore) with 35 per cent market share.

In the span of a year, Reliance Jio has managed to corner 128.58 million customers and become the fourth largest telecom company by market share after Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea Cellular. On Tuesday, Bharti Airtel revealed 4G phones, in association with Karbonn Mobiles, for the effective price of 1,399 rupees.

The 19 circles coming to Bharti "represent bulk of India's population and customer base", it said. Jio has gained 12.8 crore subscribers with in a year.

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