However, Bharti Airtel challenged it and got a partial stay from TDSAT in May last year.
The department of telecommunications (DoT) is expected to give approval to Bharti Airtel’s merger with consumer mobility business of Tata Teleservices in the next few days as the Supreme Court has refused to grant stay to an interim order of TDSAT, which had directed it to clear the deal.
The DoT had sought Rs 8,300 crore for clearing the merger between the two companies. However, Bharti Airtel challenged it and got a partial stay from TDSAT in May last year. The company was asked by the tribunal, in its interim order, to deposit 50% of the Rs 1,287-crore demand raised by DoT for merging Chennai and Tamil Nadu circles.
While complying with the order, Airtel had submitted a bank guarantee of Rs 644 crore in TDSAT but DoT challenged the order in SC in November. The SC, however, did not stay the TDSAT order, stating that it did not find any reason to interfere in the matter while also asking the telecom tribunal to give a final order on the matter in two months.
As per sources, DoT has now decided to approve the merger. A formal letter will be sent to the company in the coming few days. It must be mentioned that this is not the first time that the apex court has refused to grant stay to DoT regarding one-time spectrum charges (OTSC).
At the time of Telenor’s merger with Bharti Airtel, the DoT had raised a demand of Rs 1,700 crore as OTSC charges, which was challenged by the company. After, TDSAT gave an order in favour of the company, the DoT approached the Supreme Court, which also asked the government to clear the merger without any payment. The DoT approved the merger in May 2018.
Bharti announced its decision to acquire the consumer wireless business of Tata Teleservices in 2017. As part of the deal, Airtel will get 178.5 MHz spectrum (of which 71.3 MHz is liberalised) in the 850, 1,800 and 2,100 MHz bands across 19 circles. The customers of Tata Teleservices will also join Airtel network. The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) in January last year had approved the merger on the condition that it would be subject to the approval by the DoT.