October 12, 2017

Tata and Bharti to combine consumer telecom business

Tata Teleservices Limited (TTSL) and Tata Teleservices Maharashtra (TTML), together referred to as Tata, to combine their Consumer Mobile Businesses with Bharti Airtel

  • Tata CMB to merge with Bharti Airtel
  • Over 40 million customers to join Bharti Airtel and benefit from state-of-the-art 4G mobile network, with fall back on its 3G and 2G ecosystem
  • Merger on a debt-free, cash-free basis
  • All past liabilities and dues to be settled by Tata
  • Bharti Airtel will assume a small portion of the unpaid spectrum liability of Tata
  • Merger to bolster Bharti Airtel’s pre-eminent spectrum pool, with significant additional spectrum in 1,800, 2,100 and 850 MHz bands, all widely used for 4G
  • Transaction will also provide Bharti Airtel right to use Tata’s existing fibre network
  • Merger of TTL’s customers and revenue base will further strengthen Bharti Airtel’s Revenue Market Share (RMS)
  • Tata to retain its stake in Viom and take care of associated liabilities

New Delhi: Bharti Airtel Limited (Bharti Airtel), India’s largest telecommunications services provider, and Tata, India’s leading conglomerate, today, announced that they have entered into an understanding (agreement) to merge Consumer Mobile Businesses (CMB) of TTSL and TTML into Bharti Airtel. The acquisition is subject to requisite regulatory approvals.

As part of the agreement, Bharti Airtel will absorb Tata CMB’s operations across the country in 19 circles (17 under TTSL and 2 under TTML). These circles represent bulk of India’s population and customer base.

The proposed merger will include transfer of all the customers and assets of Tata CMB to Bharti Airtel, further augmenting Bharti Airtel’s overall customer base and network. It will also enable Bharti Airtel to further bolster its strong spectrum footprint with the addition of 178.5 MHz spectrum (of which 71.3 MHz is liberalised) in the 850, 1,800 & 2,100 MHz bands. Bharti Airtel will ensure quality services to Tata CMB’s customers, while offering them the added benefits of its innovative product portfolio, access to superior voice and data services, mobile banking, VAS and domestic / international roaming facilities. Tata CMB’s operations and services will continue as normal until the completion of the transaction.

Tata and Bharti Airtel will work together to further explore other mutual areas of cooperation, that will be value accretive for both the groups. The transaction will also provide Bharti Airtel with an indefeasible right to use (IRU) for part of the existing fibre network of Tata.

The merger is being done on a debt-free, cash-free basis, except for Bharti Airtel assuming a small portion of the unpaid spectrum liability of Tata’s towards the DoT, which is to be paid on a deferred basis.

The employees of Tata will be demerged on the lines of the two businesses, i.e,. CMB and EFL (Enterprise and Fixed Line and Broadband), and post an optimal manpower planning will be moved accordingly.

Tata is also in initial stages of exploring combination of its enterprise business with Tata Communications and its retail fixed line and broadband business with Tata Sky. Any such transaction will be subject to respective boards and other requisite approvals.

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

Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman, Bharti Airtel, said, “This is a significant development towards further consolidation in the Indian mobile industry and reinforces our commitment to lead India’s digital revolution by offering world-class and affordable telecom services through a robust technology and solid spectrum portfolio. 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 in several key circles. Tata customers will be able to enjoy India’s widest and fastest voice and data network, and bouquet of Airtel’s best-in-class products and services.”

“The acquisition of additional spectrum made an attractive business proposition. It will further strengthen our already solid portfolio and create substantial long-term value for our shareholders given the significant synergies,” Mr Mittal added.

Bharti Board which met this afternoon has approved this transaction.

N Chandrasekaran, chairman, Tata Sons, said, “We believe today's agreement is the best and most optimal solution for the Tata group and its stakeholders. Finding the right home for our longstanding customers and our employees has been the priority for us. We have evaluated multiple options and are pleased to have this agreement with Bharti.”

The boards of Tata Sons, TTSL and TTML have approved this transaction.

Goldman Sachs (India) Securities Private Limited is Tata’s financial advisor.