Sistema exits RCOM; BSNL joins queue to recover funds from Aircel

21 Jun 2018

Russia’s Sistema group has completed its exit of the Indian telecoms market, having sold its 10% stake in Reliance Communications (RCOM) in multiple tranches over the last few months, the Economic Times reports. The group reportedly abandoned plans to buy up RCOM’s remaining telecoms assets – including its enterprise business, data centres and subsea cables – after RCOM refused to carve up the portfolio. Sistema sold its mobile business, Sistema Shyam Teleservices Limited (SSTL, operating under the MTS India brand), to RCOM last year in exchange for a 10% stake in the enlarged group as part of wider merger deal that would have seen RCOM/SSTL also tie-up with Aircel. Prolonged delays to secure regulatory permissions scuppered the latter part of the merger, however, leading RCOM to quit the mobile market in December 2017. Since then, RCOM has been embroiled in disputes with its creditors over the proceeds of the planned sale of its assets. Sistema reduced its stake in RCOM to 4.43% through March-May 2018, before completely exiting the company this month.

In a related development, meanwhile, state-owned telco Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) is looking to recover INR425 million (USD6.2 million) it is owed from bankrupt cellco Aircel related to intra-circle roaming, interconnection usage charges and tower sharing.