Bharti Airtel eyes RCom assets

Non-binding offers for telco's spectrum, network equipment, fibre reportedly due by 13 December

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Bharti Airtel is one of several Indian operators keen on acquiring select assets from Reliance Communications, it emerged late on Thursday.

Bharti confirmed in an Economic Times report its interest in some of its beleaguered rival's spectrum and network equipment.

RCom in October revealed plans to offload key assets in a bid to repay 170 billion rupees (€2.2 billion) of debt.

According to sources cited by the ET, the operator has already received expressions of interest (EOIs) "from practically everyone."

Interested parties have until 12-13 December to submit non-binding offers.

Due diligence will follow depending on the value of the bids received, the source said.

If a separate report earlier this week proves accurate, then RCom could be left disappointed with any offers it does receive.

A Bloomberg report on Monday quoted an analyst who said Reliance Communications had placed optimistic valuations on its assets, and warned that the operator risks insolvency if it does not generate enough proceeds from the sell-off.

Another source in Thursday's Economic Times report pointed out that suitors will not bid particularly aggressively for RCom's spectrum because airwaves are no longer in such short supply in India.

Indeed, with spectrum trading now permitted, and a wave of consolidation sweeping the market, spectrum is not such a scarce resource.

In addition, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) earlier this week recommended changes to spectrum caps that would permit operators to own even more frequencies.