Bharti Airtel hangs up on ₹700-cr Loop Telecom buy

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on November 05, 2014

Loop Mobile subscribers in Mumbai were supposed to join Airtel’s over 4 million subscribers, making it largest network in the metropolitan city.

Fails to get regulatory nod; poaching of Loop subscribers also plays its part

Bharti Airtel, the country’s largest mobile operator by revenue and subscribers, has called off its plans to acquire Loop Mobile, as the deal failed to secure regulatory approvals. With Loop Mobile’s licence expiring on November 29, and the company has no plans to extend it, this is the end of the road for the service provider.

The approval for the transaction is still awaited from the relevant authorities, as a result of which Bharti Airtel has withdrawn from the proposed transaction causing huge loss to the company, Loop Mobile India’s Chief Operating Officer Surya Mahadevan told BusinessLine.

Therefore Loop Mobile will not be able to migrate its subscribers to Airtel as originally envisaged, he added.

In February, Bharti Airtel, the country’s largest operator by subscribers and revenue, had acquired Loop Mobile, excluding employees, to strengthen its presence in the metro. While the financial terms were not disclosed, media reports pegged it at about ₹700 crore. The company's employee base has also been eroding since the last two months.

Loop Mobile and Bharti Airtel had applied to the Department of Telecommunications’, the country’s telecom licensor’s approval, in March.

Loop Mobile has applied for additional porting codes to port out its subscribers. The GSM operator’s licence expires on November 29 and in order to ensure that minimum inconvenience is caused to customer the company is working towards smooth transition of all its existing subscribers, he added.

Loop Mobile, Mumbai’s oldest mobile phone operator, has also closed down nearly half its outlets in the city, while 50 per cent of its employees have also left the company for pastures new.

Now the GSM operator has about 15 company-owned and operated stores in the city, a far cry from some 27 outlets during the start of this year.

The telecom service provider has closed down outlets in Churchgate, Andheri, Fort and Vashi in Navi Mumbai among other places, while the remaining would be closed down by this month-end.

At present, its headcount is somewhere in the region of 180, much lower than the 350 permanent staff at the time of the deal.

The company had also faced disconnections from other operators for non-payment of interconnect usage charges. State-run Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd and Vodafone India have barred voice calls, while MTNL, Idea Cellular and Vodafone India have barred text messages.

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Published on November 05, 2014
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