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Looking for more bandwidth, Bharti Airtel in talks to buy Telenor's India assets

Bharti Airtel, India's number one mobile network operating company in terms of subscriber base, is leaving no stone unturned to keep competition at bay. In order to remain ahead of the competition, Airtel is believed to be in advanced talks to buy Norway-based Telenor's India business, including its debt of Rs 1,500 crore.

The Economic Times report states that Airtel may take a portion of Telenor's India debt as part of its acquisition, while asking the latter to service the balance loans.



Airtel's decision to buy Telenor's India assets stems from the fact that the Norway-based company possesses 4G spectrum in Uttar Pradesh east and west circles, where it is not present. Also, Telenor, which has presence in seven circles of Assam, has been growing its revenue market share at the fastest pace among the top telecom companies, the ET report said citing an HSBC report.

Another important factor is that Telenor has around 54 million subscribers and its seven circles represent for nearly 45 percent of subscriber share and nearly 40 percent of industry revenue, the ET report added.

Telenor had a tough time in India after its telecom permits got cancelled in 2012 following a Supreme Court order. This hurt its business prospects badly here, and the company bought airwaves in six cicles in the auction, and followed it with more bandwidth purchase in 2014. However, the company now wants to exit the country due to heightening competition and the entry of a much bigger player, Reliance Jio.

Airtel has a consolidated debt of Rs 83,000 crore on its books as of September end, while Telenor owes Rs 1,900 crore to government and another Rs 1,800 crore to financial institutions.

In order to strengthen its position, Airtel had earlier bought Videocon's spectrum in six circles after Idea failed to conclude the deal.

Updated Date: Jan 03, 2017 14:57 PM

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