Consolidation is the word in the wild. Thanks to the entry of Reliance Jio, every other telecom operator are teaming up to match the new entrant. It started with Reliance Communications (RCom) acquiring Sistema (MTS India) and Aircel. There also a report of Tata Communication joining the RCom camp. Vodafone India and Idea Cellular in talks for a merger to become India’s largest telecom operator.
Adding to consolidation scene, India’s top telecom operator Bharti Airtel will be buying Norwegian Telenor’s India telecom unit – Telenor (India) Communications Pvt Ltd or Telenor India. As part of the acquisition, Airtel will completely take over Telenor assets and operation in six telecom circles of India. We are yet to know the financial terms of the deal.
With the acquisition, Airtel will own Telenor’s spectrum, licenses and operations, including its employees and around 44 million of the subscriber base. That would raise up Airtel’s overall customer base from 269 million subscribers to nearly 313 million subscribers according to the latest TRAI report. The acquisition will also strengthen Airtel’s spectrum footprint in these seven telecom circles. That’s with the addition of 43.4 MHz spectrum in the 1800 MHz band. The seven telecom circles part of the acquisition includes – Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh (East), Uttar Pradesh (West) and Assam.
“On completion, the proposed acquisition will undergo seamless integration, both on the customer as well as the network side, and further strengthen our market position considerably in several key circles,” said Gopal Vittal, Managing Director and CEO (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel.
“The decision to exit India has not been taken lightly. After thorough consideration, it is our view that the significant investments needed to secure Telenor India’s future business on a standalone basis would not have given an acceptable level of return,” commented Sigve Brekke, Chief Executive Officer of Telenor Group.
Highlights on Airtel acquiring Telenor India
- Airtel and Telenor India will merge and Airtel will take over Telenor India.
- Airtel will take over outstanding spectrum payments and other operational contracts, including tower lease of Telenor India.
- Telenor has the commercial operation in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar & Jharkhand, Gujarat, Maharashtra, UP East and UP West). The operator also has spectrum license in Assam telecom circle.
- Airtel will bag 43.4MHz spectrum in the 1800MHz band from the acquisition.
- Telenor India currently has 44 million subscribers and Airtel have around 269 million subscribers.
After the acquisition, Telenor India subscribers will automatically convert to Airtel subscribers. They can enjoy Airtel’s widest and fastest voice and data network which has an operation in every Indian telecom circle. They can also utilise a wide range of Airtel’s products and services like Airtel Payment bank, VAS and international roaming facilities.
The acquisition is subject to requisite regulatory approvals. This includes approval from the Department of Telecommunications in India (DoT) and the Competition Commission of India. The transaction is expected to close within 12 months or buy 2017 end.