Reliance Jio Bids Rs 3,600 Crore For RCom Tower, Optic Fibre Assets: Exclusive
Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. has submitted the highest bid for the telecom tower and optic fibre assets of Reliance Communications Ltd. under the insolvency process, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The tower and fibre assets are owned by Reliance Infratel Ltd., a subsidiary of Reliance Communications Ltd., which is undergoing insolvency proceedings. The debt owed to lenders against these assets is around Rs 7,500 crore. RCom’s total dues stand at Rs 49,000 crore across 41 lenders.
Reliance Jio has offered an upfront payment of Rs 3,600 crore, the two people quoted above said on the condition of anonymity. This implies a 52 percent haircut for lenders on the existing debt against these assets. Reliance Jio, however, stayed away from bidding for the spectrum due to the large regulatory dues owed to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.
According to details put out by the resolution professional, RCom’s spectrum dues stood at over Rs 22,000 crore. This includes dues accumulated in keeping with the recent Supreme Court decision on adjusted gross revenue and spectrum usage charges.
The people quoted above said Reliance Jio had originally agreed to purchase all telecom assets owned by RCom for Rs 15,000 crore. However, now, without the spectrum assets, the repayment offer has come down significantly.
Bharti Airtel has bid an amount of Rs 2,500 crore for the tower and optic fibre assets, the people said. It also expressed an interest in the spectrum owned by RCom and has offered to take over the spectrum dues, one of the two people quoted above said.
A spokesperson for Bharti Airtel declined to comment. An email sent to a spokesperson for Reliance Industries on Tuesday morning was not answered.
Two other bidders — UV Asset Reconstruction Company Ltd. and VFSI Holdings Pte. — also submitted their bids, according to a stock exchange notification by RCom. BloombergQuint could not determine the quantum of their bids.
Harihar Mishra, director, UV ARC, said the company does not comment on specific transactions. No communication address for VFSI Holdings, which was incorporated only in April 2019, was available.
On Monday, the committee of creditors to RCom, Reliance Infratel and Reliance Telecom met to discuss the bids received. The creditors will now vote on the bids over the next few weeks, the bankers quoted above said.
RCom’s resolution professional Anish Nanavaty did not respond to calls or messages.
The resolution process at RCom has stretched out for over two years. Lenders first began looking for a resolution for the company in 2017, when it defaulted on its dues to banks. Lenders led by State Bank of India at the time decided to invoke the strategic debt restructuring route to resolve the stress. However, that plan failed and the company offered to repay its lenders after a sale of assets.
RCom entered into a sale agreement with Reliance Jio in August 2018 and then again in December last year. But it was terminated in March 2019 due to delays in regulatory approvals. By May this year, RCom had been referred for insolvency proceedings.