Roadblocks may put RCom-Aircel merger on hold beyond Sept 30

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on January 10, 2018 Published on September 15, 2017



Delay may upsetAnil Ambani firm’s debt revamp plan

Reliance Communications’ debt-reduction plan could be in trouble with the proposed merger between Reliance Communications and Aircel facing multiple roadblocks.

This includes the insolvency petition filed by Ericsson against Reliance Communications with the National Company Law Tribunal, delays in getting approval from the Department of Telecom, and an ongoing CBI investigation in the Aircel-Maxis case.

Earlier, RCom had said it would reduce its debt by ₹25,000 crore before September 30. This, however, will be possible only after the company concludes two deals: the merger with Aircel, followed by the sale of its tower assets to private equity firm Brookefield.

These would help the beleaguered telecom firm bring down its debt substantially from ₹36,726 crore, as of March 31.

However, with multiple hurdles in its path, the merger with Aircel could get delayed beyond September.

In June, RCom had said its lenders had agreed to give the Anil Ambani-backed telecom service provider time till December to repay its debt.

This came after the debt-laden company assured lenders it would move swiftly on the tower asset sale and the merger with Aircel.

“With Ericsson moving the NCLT against RCom, the merger could get pushed beyond the time-frame announced by the telecom company,” said an industry observer.

“The Department of Telecom will also not give its approval for the merger until the Supreme Court disposes of the case related to the Aircel-Maxis deal in 2006,” the observer added

Several credit-rating agencies, including Fitch, had downgraded RCom’s debt rating on concerns that the company would default on loan repayment.

The company’s share price was punished by investors as questions were being raised about mounting debt of nearly ₹45,000 crore. If the merger with Aircel does not go through, lenders could declare RCom a non-performing asset.

RCom’s stock was down 4.87 per cent after a TV channel reported that Aircel may file for bankruptcy. However, Aircel denied any such move.

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Published on September 15, 2017
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