DoT gives nod to Airtel-Telenor merger

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New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on Monday approved the merger of Bharti Airtel with the Indian unit of Norwegian telecom major Telenor India, a notice said here. Airtel said it will be a seamless transition.

The notification said DoT has transferred all licences and liabilities of Telenor India to Bharti Airtel.

Airtel in a statement said: “All the customers (Telenor) will be transitioned seamlessly to the Airtel network and will continue to enjoy uninterrupted services with the same SIM, same number, and same plan/pack benefits.”

The DoT notification said: “The present merger is taken on record without prejudice to the rights, contentions, remedies and steps which may be taken by the Department, in pursuance of any subsequent orders of any orders, judgements and decisions of Hon’ble Courts/Tribunals in related matters” pending in the Bombay High Court, TDSAT and Supreme Court.”

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With the completion of this transaction, Airtel’s total mobile customer base in India now stands at over 330 million.

The DoT’s notification came after the Supreme Court last week quashed DoT’s effort to make Bharti Airtel furnish a bank guarantee of Rs 1,499 crore as a pre-condition to approving the Telenor India acquisition.

Bharti Airtel had received the approval of the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), BSE, National Stock Exchange of India Limited (NSE) and Competition Commission of India for the proposed merger with Telenor (India) in June last year.

Airtel had announced on February 23, 2017 that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Telenor South Asia Investments. As part of the scheme, Airtel will acquire Telenor India’s running operations in seven circles – Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh (East), Uttar Pradesh (West) and Assam.

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“These circles represent a high population concentration and therefore offer a high potential for growth. The proposed acquisition will include transfer of all of Telenor India’s assets and customers, further augmenting Airtel’s overall customer base and network,” the telecom major said in a statement earlier.

With this merger Airtel will now add 5 MHz to 7.2 MHz of Telenor’s spectrum (1800 band) in each of the seven circles. The addition of this fresh spectrum (total of 43.4 MHz) will enable Airtel to further expand network capacity across these market, the statement said.

“The acquisition consolidates our market leadership, further strengthens our network portfolio in key markets and will add to shareholder value. We would like to thank all the concerned authorities and stakeholders for granting approvals to this transaction,” said Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO (India & South Asia), Bharti Airtel.

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During the acquisition announcement the deal was estimated to be in the range of Rs 1,800 crore-Rs 2,000 crore by industry sources.



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