Airtel withdraws bid to buy Reliance Communications spectrum

Bharti Airtel has withdrawn its bid to buy some of the assets of the loss making telecom operator Reliance Communications.
Airtel business customersAirtel has termed the move of the committee of creditors to extend the deadline to submit the bid on the request of Reliance Jio as extremely unfair and biased, PTI reported.

Airtel Director (Finance) Harjeet Kohli in a letter to resolution professional Anish Niranjan Nanavaty said his company’s request to extend the deadline for submitting the bid was turned down by the committee of creditors (CoC). But CoC has extended the bid submission date to Reliance Jio in order to accommodate their demands.

“Given the complexities involved in the proposed transaction, vide our letter dated October 31, 2019, we requested for an extension of time to submit the resolution plan from November 11, 2019, till December 1, 2019. Disappointingly, our request for extension was rejected by CoC,” Harjeet Kohli said.

Telecom operator Bharti Airtel, telecom tower company Bharti Infratel and private equity firm Varde Partners have already submitted their bids for assets of Reliance Communications. Reliance Jio had sought an extension of the asset sale deal deadline by another 10 days.

Airtel has placed conditional bid to buy spectrum of Reliance Communications, while Bharti Infratel has submitted bids for mobile towers.

The CoC extended the deadline by 10 days and has decided to open bid now on November 25.

“To our utter shock, we have learnt that the CoC has now decided to extend the submission timeline to November 25, 2019, until 1200 hours, solely based on the request of another potential bidder,” Harjeet Kohli said.

Since Bharti Airtel’s request was declined by the CoC, the company was constrained to submit the bids under due haste without the benefit of sufficient time to complete the resolution plan within the set deadline, Harjeet Kohli said.

“We find this conduct, inequitable, questionable and against the spirit of what should be a highly transparent process. It is extremely unfair and rather biased…we hereby formally withdraw our resolution plans while reserving all rights, including the right to submit our resolution plan afresh within the new deadline communicated now,” Harjeet Kohli said.

Reliance Communications has tried to sell assets to various companies, including Reliance Jio, to clear debt but the deals did not materialise. Reliance Jio cancelled agreement to buy Reliance Communications assets, including spectrum, as it did not want to bear the past liabilities of the debt-ridden firm.

Later, the insolvency proceedings against Reliance Communications started on a plea filed by telecom equipment maker Ericsson after the company failed to clear its dues.

Reliance Communications’ assets include spectrum holding of 122 MHz with estimated value of around Rs 14,000 crore, towers business for Rs 7,000 crore, optical fibre network Rs 3,000 crore and data centres worth Rs 4,000 crore.

Reliance Communications chairman Anil Ambani has submitted his resignation after the company posted a loss of Rs 30,142 crore for July-September 2019 due to provisioning for liabilities after the Supreme Court ruling on AGR dues.