Ericsson India Pvt. Ltd has approached the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal against three Anil Ambani-promoted companies, including Reliance Communications Ltd, to recover Rs 1,155.50 crore.
The development comes barely one month after the tribunal had dismissed the Swiss telecommunications equipment maker’s objections to the proposed merger between RCom and Aircel Ltd.
While Ericsson has filed a petition to recover Rs 491.41 crore from RCom, it has also filed similar cases against group subsidiaries, Reliance Infratel Ltd and Reliance Telecom Ltd, to recover Rs 534.75 crore and Rs 129.34 crore, respectively, the company told the stock exchange.
RCom intends to challenge Ericsson’s claims. The tribunal has posted the matter for a 26 September hearing.
Ever since the merger was announced by RCom and Aircel promoter Maxis Communications Berhad in September 2016, a section of creditors, including Ericsson, and regulators had been objecting to the move.
The department of telecommunications had raised objections to the merger, and had mandated both parties to seek a clearance from the Supreme Court, as the apex court had earlier restrained Aircel from selling and trading 2G spectrum allotted to it in 2006.
Tower companies, Bharti Infratel Ltd and Indus Towers Ltd, had also opposed the move as they wanted to know how the Ambani-controlled company will clear its dues once the merger sails through.
China Development Bank, which has an exposure of over $1 billion in RCom, too, objected to the deal, besides other lenders such as Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC Daisy Investments Ltd.
However, both RCom and Aircel had convinced all parties concerned, except Ericsson, to withdraw their opposition to its merger plan. Finally, on 14 August, the tribunal also set aside Ericsson’s objections to the RCom-Aircel merger.
The recent move by Ericsson comes at a time when RCom is in the last leg of its merger with Aircel, having received all relevant regulatory approvals, including those from capital market regulator, Securities and Exchange Board of India, anti-trust regulator Competition Commission of India and the stock exchanges, the BSE and the NSE.
If the merger sails through, the merged entity with assets worth Rs 65,000 crore and a net worth of Rs 35,000 crore, will be the country’s fourth-largest telecom operator by customer base and revenue. It will also have the second-largest spectrum holding among all operators, aggregating 448 MHz across 850, 900, 1800 and 2100 MHz bands.
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