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Airtel approaches NCLT over demerger of subsidiary

Bharti Airtel and its wholly-owned subsidiary Telesonic Network have approached the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) seeking to convene a meeting of stakeholders about their proposal of demerger.

In November 2017, Bharti Airtel had said it will transfer its optical fibre business to its wholly owned subsidiary Telesonic Networks, for a valuation of up to Rs 5,650 crore. The companies then moved their first motion application before the NCLT asking permission to call the meeting.

On this case, the order has been reserved by a two-member bench of the tribunal headed by President M M Kumar.

The entire optical cable business of Bharti Airtel, which includes both over- and underground cables, will be transferred to its subsidiary. This is being done for efficient integration of fibre rollout and maintenance on both intra- and inter-city levels, according to Airtel.

Telesonic Networks is engaged in the business of designing, planning, optimising and managing broadband and fixed telephone networks in India.

Airtel’s business

Earlier this month, Airtel announced its acquisition of the India leg of a submarine cable system by Gulf Bridge International. It can now use a “significant capacity” on the Middle East-Europe leg of the cable system. These cables are used to carry telecommunication signals to landing stations across the world and act as the backbone of the internet, connecting one region to another. After the latest deal, Airtel claims to have large capacities—owned and leased—on multiple international submarine cable systems and offers the maximum number of routes between India and Europe.

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The company also recently declared that it will raise up to Rs 16,500 crore by floating privately placed non-convertible debentures (NCDs) and a foreign currency bonds. The money raised will be used to refinance existing debt and spectrum liabilities. Airtel also raised Rs 2,649 crore from Singapore-based Singtel, which is buying new shares in Bharti Telecom Limited. Singtel’s total stake (along with its affiliates) in Bharti Telecom will increase to 48.90% from 47.17%.

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