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RCOM extends talks with Aircel to merge wireless business

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Reliance Communications (RCOM) has extended the discussion period to merge its wireless business with Aircel by 30 days till June 22, 2016, the company said in a BSE filing. In March, RCOM had extended the exclusivity period of discussions with Aircel by 60 days until May 22, 2016. Both companies had originally entered into talks in December last year.

RCOM said that the extension period was announced “based on the substantial further progress made” with Malaysia’s Maxis Communications Berhad and Sindya Securities and Investments Private Limited—the shareholders of Aircel Limited.

The objective of a potential merger would be “to mutually derive the expected substantial benefits of in-country consolidation, including opex and capex synergies and revenue enhancement,” RCOM added. Even though the discussions are at advanced stage, it remains non-binding and any transaction is subjected to documentation, regulatory, and shareholders’ approvals.

RCOM and Reliance Jio spectrum sharing

Last month, the DoT approved a spectrum sharing deal between Reliance Jio (Jio) and Anil Ambani owned Reliance Communications (RCOM) to share their 800MHz spectrum band across 9 Circles. The deal was applicable across RCOM’s 7 Circles and Reliance Jio’s 2 Circles.

In January, both companies entered into a strategic partnership to share spectrum to provide LTE services across 9 circles. At that time, RCOM and Jio said that they also intend to enter into a mutual Intra Circle Roaming (“ICR”) arrangement.

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RCOM Merger with MTS

In March, shareholders of Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL), which owns the MTS brand in India has approved the merger of the company with Reliance Communications (RCOM) in a meeting convened by the Rajasthan High Court. The deal between RCom and SSTL is valued at around $690 million (~Rs 4,500 crore).

Nearly 60% of RCOM’s data users are on 3G

Reliance Communications (RCOM) reported 38.8 million mobile Internet connections for the quarter ended December 31, 2015 (Q3FY16). RCOM’s 3G connection base stood at 23.1 million accounting for 59.53 % of all data connections in the same quarter. Its 2G connection base decreased to 15.7 million, from 18.1 million in the previous quarter.

Similar developments from other players:

-Last month, Airtel bought 20 Mhz of the 2300 band spectrum from Aircel for Rs 3,500 crore. The deal will allow Airtel to offer 4G services in the eight circles of Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal among others.

-In March, Ambani-owned telco Reliance Jio (RJIO) signed an Intra-Circle Roaming (ICR) deal with BSNL. The ICR deal will be applicable across 22 circles.

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-In January, Telecom operator Airtel and Robi Axiata had signed an agreement to merge their operations in Bangladesh, the company said in a notification in the Bombay Stock Exchange.

-In December 2015, The Department of Telecom had given a green signal to Vodafone to merge four of its Indian entities (Vodafone East, Vodafone South, Vodafone Cellular and Vodafone Digilink) into Vodafone Mobile Services (VMS)

-In November 2015, Idea Cellular had entered into an agreement to acquire the rights to use spectrum currently with Videocon Telecom in the 1800 MHz band in two key circles – Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh (West) – for Rs 3310 crore.

Image Credit: Flickr user Michael Dorausch under CC BY-SA 2.0

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