Airtel to Buy Tata Teleservices' Consumer Mobile Business

Bharti Airtel will be absorbing Tata Tele’s Consumer Mobile Business’s operations across the country in 19 circles

Finding the right home for our longstanding customers and our employees has been the priority for us.

The agreement, signed in 2008, failed to attract enough customers and Docomo triggered an option to sell its stake six years later after incurring losses.

Tata is also in the initial stages of exploring a combination of its enterprise business with Tata Communications Ltd and its retail fixed-line and broadband business with satellite TV arm Tata Sky, according to the statement. N Chandrasekaran, who built the $17.5 billion Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), knows what TTSL can be in the next 10 years under the fold of Tata Sons without additional investment programs.

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A court case followed and in June 2016 an global arbitration court ordered Tata to pay $1.17 billion in damages.

"Instead of closing down the consumer mobile business, which would have entailed a much higher cost and involved letting go of employees and vendors etc, we have chosen this route", Tata Group chief financial officer Saurabh Agrawal told. Airtel is also not taking Tata Tele's debt. The business along with its around 40 million customers will be transferred on a cash free, debt-free basis for some consideration. In some other group companies, such as Tata Power, selling off troubled assets has been identified as a way to pare back debt. The Boards of Tata Sons, TTSL and TTML, too, have given their approval. Idea has 191 million users as of August. According to various media reports, outright divestments or mergers of some small Tata group companies are also in the offing.

Tata Teleservices is one of the most awarded that includes Tata Docomo and Tata Photon. Merging with Tata Tele, Airtel will have more than 320 million customers.

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Pressure has been mounting on telecom companies since Reliance Industries' telecom arm emerged on the scene in September past year.

Vodafone Group and Idea Cellular - the market's second and third biggest players, respectively, are in the process of combining their operations to create the market's biggest player, while Bharti Airtel had previously agreed to buy Telenor's India unit.

The telecom sector is in a consolidation mode since the September 2016 entry of India's richest man Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio, which has given incumbent operators a run for their money through free voice calling and cheap data offers. On Tuesday, Bharti Airtel revealed 4G phones, in association with Karbonn Mobiles, for the effective price of 1,399 rupees. This development comes at a time when the telecom sector is facing a bloodbath due to the decreased pricing in the tariffs post the launch of Reliance Jio.

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