LIRNEasia is a regional ICT policy and regulation think tank active across the Asia Pacific

Aircel finds market exit difficult in India

WE have been talking about the absence of clear market-exit rules in the countries we work in.

The examples keep piling up.

Indian operator Aircel may have no other option but to shutter its operations following the collapse of its merger with Reliance Communications (RCom).

The operator has debts of around US$3.7B and continues to make losses. It holds no 4G spectrum, and the country’s apex court has issued an order to prevent it selling any of its 2G or 3G spectrum before representatives from its parent firm Maxis appear in court.

The Maxis representatives in question – promoter T Ananda Krishnan and former executive Ralph Marshall – controlled the Malaysian company when it acquired Aircel. The fact that neither has yet appeared before India’s Supreme Court was a key factor behind the collapse of Aircel’s merger with RCom.

Aircel may now attempt to shift some of its wireless assets – along with its 89 million subscribers – to a larger operator. It also has 40,000 towers that it will likely try to sell. However, this could change if the Supreme Court grants Aircel permission to sell any of its spectrum.

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