The Telecom Ministry has approved the 4G spectrum trading deal worth Rs. 3,500 crore between Airtel and Aircel. At the time of the approval, Ravi Shankar Prasad was still the IT minister.
The two companies had reached an agreement where Airtel acquired rights to use Aircel’s 4G spectrum in eight telecom circles. The transaction has been successfully completed for six out of the eight circles. The six circles include Tamil Nadu (Chennai included), Bihar, Bengal, Jammu & Kashmir, Northeast, and Assam. The two remaining ones are Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. The filing said that the stock changes would be updated once the deals for the circles remaining are completed.
The Odisha transaction is being delayed because the company was asked to surrender their 1.2 MHz spectrum before the deal was given a ‘go ahead’ by the ministry.
This happened post a letter by activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who had urged the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate to seize the spectrum ahead of the deal with Airtel and Reliance going through. According to him, if this hadn’t happened, Aircel’s parent company ‘Maxis’ would start absconding.
A detailed charge sheet has been filed by the CBI against the company and its owner T. Ananda Krishnan. The case is complicated and could take a while because the party concerned is a foreign national. Following the charge sheet by CBI, the ED has also filed cases against them with properties of former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran attached to them, not Maxis.
The recent 4G spectrum auction was highly competitive and saw some unexpected results. The government earned an estimated amount of $16 billion out of it. With the demand for data among the masses seeing a steep uprise, the larger companies are looking to tap into a little more with deals such as these.