The department of telecommunications has moved the Supreme Court seeking a stay on TDSAT’s order that asked it to approve the merger of Telenor India with Bharti Airtel without any bank guarantee towards one-time spectrum charges (OTSC) for spectrum held beyond 4.4 MHz.
DoT had in April asked Bharti to submit a bank guarantee of around `1,700 crore so that it can approve the proposed merger. Since Bharti and other players have got a stay from various high courts against payment of OTSC till the matter is decided, the company has refused to pay it.
However, the DoT’s stand is that the merger and acquisition policy framed in February 2014 clearly states that OTSC need to be cleared in case of any M&A. DoT maintains if the matter is under dispute in courts then a bank guarantee for the same amount needs to be furnished. Bharti had acquired the operations of Telenor India last year in February and for the transaction to close DoT’s approval is required.
Since Telenor has operations in only seven circles, DoT had demanded the amount due from Bharti from only these seven circles. Bharti has got the approval from other regulatory bodies for the merger. The case will be watched with interest by telecom players as the merger of Vodafone and Idea is also before the DoT where dues like OTSC need to be paid.