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Reliance Communications owed financial creditors  ₹49,193.46 crore at the time of being taken to bankruptcy court in May 2018. (Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint)
Reliance Communications owed financial creditors 49,193.46 crore at the time of being taken to bankruptcy court in May 2018. (Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint)

Airtel, Reliance Jio submit bids for assets of bankrupt RCom

  • I Squared Capital, Varde Partners and UV Asset Reconstruction are also said to have bid for the assets
  • Reliance Communications’ assets include spectrum, towers, fibre, data centres and real estate housed under its subsidiaries Reliance Telecom and Reliance Infratel

NEW DELHI : Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd and Bharti Airtel Ltd on Monday submitted bids for assets of bankrupt Reliance Communications Ltd and its two units, two people aware of the matter said.

Monday was the last day for submitting bids, 10 days after insolvency resolution professional Anish Niranjan Nanavaty of Deloitte India extended the previous deadline.

Airtel and Bharti Infratel, which had earlier bid together for RCom, are likely to have bid jointly again. That bid was withdrawn in protest against the deadline extension made on the request of Reliance Jio.

Spokespersons for Airtel and Reliance Jio declined to comment on the bids.

The Economic Times also named private equity (PE) investors I Squared Capital, Varde Partners and UV Asset Reconstruction Co. Ltd as bidding, but this could not be confirmed.

“We are bound by confidentiality obligations and are unable to comment on client-specific matters," a Deloitte India spokesperson said in an email to Mint.

China Development Bank, Life Insurance Corp. of India, State Bank of India, Exim Bank of China and Bank of Baroda are among the 41 creditors to the beleaguered Anil Ambani group company.

According to information available on the company’s website, it owed financial creditors 49,193.46 crore at the time of being taken to bankruptcy court in May last year.

The company’s subsidiaries are Reliance Telecom Ltd and Reliance Infratel Ltd. They owe financial creditors 24,306.27 crore and 12,687.65 crore, respectively. Reliance Communications thus owes debtors 86,187.58 crore at a consolidated level. This is besides 28,837 crore it owes to the department of telecommunications (DoT) in spectrum dues and other charges as well as the amounts it has to pay its operational creditors.

Reliance Communications’ assets include spectrum, towers, fibre, data centres and real estate housed under its subsidiaries Reliance Telecom and Reliance Infratel.

Reliance Jio, promoted by Anil’s elder brother Mukesh Ambani, had last year agreed to buy the assets of Reliance Communications that included its spectrum, 43,000 telecom towers and 178,000 route km of optic fibre. The deal failed to secure the requisite clearance from the DoT.

The resolution professional had on 13 November received bids from firms including the Airtel-Bharti Infratel combine and PE firm Varde Partners.

Anil Ambani had on 16 November, along with four other directors, resigned from the company. But the lenders rejected the resignations on Sunday, requesting Ambani and the other officials to cooperate in the ongoing insolvency resolution proceedings.

The company had pioneered CDMA services in the country when Mukesh Ambani ran it, before he handed it to younger brother Anil after the two brothers split family assets under a 2005 agreement. As its fortunes dwindled and cut-throat competition eroded margins in the sector, the company considered selling its assets, a process more than five years in the making. The entry of Reliance Jio in 2016, which came with free voice services bundled with ultra cheap data, sounded the death knell for the company.

The company, unable to bear the onslaught of Jio, shut its mobile voice operations in December 2017, then choosing to offer only data services.

Reliance Communications, once part of the National Stock Exchange’s Nifty index, is now reduced to a penny stock. It shot up 6.7% on Monday to close the session at 80 paise, spurred by reports of various firms showing interest in its assets.

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