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Aircel CEO Kaizad Heerjee quits: report

The CEO of the now-bankrupt telco Aircel Kaizad Heerjee has resigned from his position at the company, reported the Economic Times. “Heerjee will, however, continue to work with the insolvency resolution professional (IRP) to help the telco, which has filed for bankruptcy protection, sort out its interim funding,” the paper said quoting unnamed sources.

Heerjee had been with Aircel since 2012, where he was earlier the chief operating officer. He was appointed the CEO of the company at the end of 2013, after the position remained vacant for months. Before joining Aircel, Heerjee worked with Malaysian operator U Mobile for a year.

According to ET, Heerjee was widely credited for turning around the mobile phone operator before it ran into financial stress due to high competition.

This is the third such case of a top official quitting the company, after it filed for bankruptcy in February. Vipul Saurabh, who was national head, operations and customer services, and Anupam Vasudev, who was chief marketing officer, had put in their papers in February. Saurabh had been with Aircel since 2009, while Vasudev was there since 2011.

Troubled telco

Aircel had filed for bankruptcy in February citing deep financial stress. The NCLT accepted Aircel’s petition for bankruptcy albeit saying that the company had scope for revival.

Earlier, Swedish company Ericsson moved the Delhi High Court to recover dues worth Rs 251.40 crore from Aircel. Tower companies GLT Infra and American Tower Corp also moved Delhi HC for payment of Rs 912 crore and Rs 224 crore respectively. GTL Infra also turned off at least one-third of their total sites used by Aircel. Other operators have also stopped accepting incoming calls from Aircel numbers due to unpaid interconnection fee.

At the same time, DoT had moved to encash guarantees given by banks on behalf of Aircel and its two companies, alleging “major breach of terms and conditions” as Aircel filed for insolvency without giving an advance notice to the department. The DoT also said that the telco did not pay spectrum usage charge and license fee last quarter. In this matter, the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) gave temporary relief to Aircel, barring DoT from encashing bank guarantees amounting to more Rs 1,200 crore as it waited for the Supreme Court to hear another matter involving the two parties.

State operator BSNL also decided to take the legal route to recover dues from Aircel.

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