Sandip Basu: the merchant of deals

Rajesh Kurup Mumbai | Updated on March 13, 2018 Published on February 19, 2014

The man who closed the Loop Mobile sale to Airtel

Sandip Basu terms himself a ‘professional entrepreneur’ as he relishes the challenge of nurturing and growing a business, that, too, with an expert touch. For the 53-year-old, who has been a CEO for the past 12 years with various firms, the formal training in finance is an added advantage.

Basu, who was the first CFO to Sunil Mittal’s Bharti Airtel in 1992, was instrumental in selling three companies, including the telecom infrastructure firm he incubated. The latest feather in his cap is the just-announced Bharti Airtel-Loop Mobile deal.

As the Managing Director and CEO of Loop Mobile, Basu was spearheading discussions for Mumbai’s oldest telecom company, on behalf of its owners – IP Khaitan and family.

“The family (owners) had given me enough bandwidth to transact the business. I had enough room to negotiate, and Loop Mobile being a board-run company, I used to keep them (the board and the family) informed at all times,” he said.

On Tuesday, Bharti Airtel acquired Loop Mobile for an undisclosed sum. Industry sources pegged the deal at ₹700 crore.

However, it was not an easy deal as Loop Mobile’s licences were to end in November and it had a debt of about ₹400 crore. The single-circle company, which had more than 3.2 million subscribers, was also in talks with various operators and private equity firm Carlyle before settling for Bharti Airtel.

“I think we have chosen the best company,” he said.

Basu joined BPL Mobile as deputy CFO in 1997, following stints with Apollo Tyres, Bharti Group and Fascel. In 2002, he was promoted as Group CEO, and three years later, he was instrumental in selling the company’s four circles to Khaitan and family. He then incubated Xcel Telecom, an independent telecom tower operator with a financial backing from Texas-based Q Investments. In 2009, Xcel Telecom was sold to Nasdaq-listed American Tower Corp in the highest cash deal in the tower sector. Basu then returned for his second stint with BPL Mobile, which had changed its name to Loop Mobile then. On his responsibilities at Loop, Basu said: “The primary mandate was to find a strategic partner or financial investor and complete roll-out initiatives.”

He is a connoisseur of the good things in life, with a special interest to music, food and cricket. Deep down, he is still a Bengali, with affinity for Bengali food and literature and Rabindra Sangeet. However, he does not turn to any of these to de-stress.

“I have developed a knack over a period of time to unplug myself. I completely detach myself from work the moment I reach home,” he said, adding, and plugs back the next morning when he steps back into the car.

What next? Basu would let his entrepreneur initiatives take wings, once Loop Mobile acquisition is completed.

Published on February 19, 2014
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