Aircel ramps up efforts to recover funds

20 Aug 2018

India’s Supreme Court has accepted a plea from bankrupt cellco Aircel seeking INR4.53 billion (USD65 million) in unpaid dues from Bharti Airtel, directing the latter to respond within the next two weeks, the Economic Times reports. The fees relate to Airtel’s acquisition of Aircel’s 4G spectrum in 2016; Aircel has accused Airtel of ‘unjustifiably withholding’ the funds. In a related development, a group of around 50 Aircel employees have stayed on at the operator to try and recover unpaid fees as part of efforts to keep the company operating. The group has been chasing up unpaid dues from subscribers, enterprise customers and other telcos and recovered an estimated INR900 million over the last two months. Although insufficient to revive the telco – which collapsed with debts of roughly INR500 billion – the money raised by the group is covering some daily expenses as well as the maintenance of assets and financing of several legal battles. According to one member of the group, employee salaries for July were distributed as a result of the fundraising efforts, although salaries for April-June remain unpaid. Aircel began insolvency proceedings in March this year and appeals to lenders for an infusion of cash to maintain the firm’s assets and restart operations was rejected.

India, Aircel, Bharti Airtel