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Airtel and Jio keen to snap up Aircel assets

Airtel and Jio keen to snap up Aircel assets

The assets of bankrupt Indian operator Aircel have attracted bids from several interested parties, including Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio.

In March this year, following disputes with its creditors over the repayment of its debt, the beleaguered operator filed for bankruptcy – a further blow after the collapse of its merger with RCom.

Aircel owes around INR500 billion to several financial institutions, and its creditors are aiming to sell its assets to a single buyer for around INR250 billion ($3.5 billion). The bidding period ended earlier this week.

Livemint quoted a source as saying: “The bids have been received. But we are thinking of the possibility of a lump sum sale, that is, give all of the assets to a single party. This should get better value for the assets.” The same source claimed that bids had been lodged by two investment firms and equipment maker Sterlite Technologies, although the latter denied this.

Aircel has a range of physical assets, including fibre networks and mobile towers, as well as significant spectrum holdings. These include 65MHz of 2.1GHz spectrum, 103MHz in the 1.8GHz band, and 21MHz in the 900MHz frequency.

Jio is the only party to have made a bid for the towers, while Bharti Airtel is the only party interested in Aircel’s spectrum. Jio has also indicated interest in some of the fibre networks. The bids are being assessed, with a decision likely to be forthcoming next month.

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