Tata sells consumer mobile ops to Bharti Airtel

Friday 13 October 2017 | 09:56 CET | News

The Tata Group has agreed to sell its consumer mobile businesses to Bharti Airtel, including all customers and assets. No financial details were disclosed about the deal, except that it will done on a debt- and cash-free basis, except for Bharti assuming a small portion of Tata payments for spectrum. The acquisition will be subject to the usual regulatory approvals. The boards of Tata Sons, TTSL and TTML have already given their green light.

Under the deal, Bharti Airtel will absorb Tata CMB across the country in nineteen circles (17 under TTSL and two under TTML), reaching most of India’s population and the company’s customer base. Bharti Airtel said the transaction will boost its spectrum foot-print with the addition of 178.5 MHz (of which 71.3 MHz is liberalised) in the 850, 1,800 and 2,100 MHz bands. Tata CMB operations and services will continue as normal until the completion of the transaction. Bharti Airtel will also get the right to use part of Tata’s existing fibre network. 

The merger will allow Bharti Airtel to close the gap with rivals Idea Cellular and Vodafone, which have agreed their own merger. Airtel earlier agreed to take over Telenor's mobile business in India, as the market consolidates in the face of intense competition from new arrival Reliance Jio. Airtel has around 280 million mobile users in India, while Tata Teleservices has around 48 million. 

The employees of Tata will be demerged on the lines of the two businesses, CMB and EFL (Enterprise and Fixed Line and Broadband). Tata said it is also exploring a combination of its Enterprise Business with Tata Communications and its Retail Fixed Line and Broadband business with Tata Sky. That will also be dependent on board and other approvals. 

Tata will retain its stake in Viom, and will take care of the liabilities associated with it.

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