HOW THE DEAL WAS DONE IN 5 DAYS

Business Standard - - FRONT PAGE - NIVEDITA MOOKERJI

The deal between Bharti group and Tata Te­le­ser­vices is yet an­other ex­am­ple of how swiftly things can change in busi­ness.

A col­lapsed deal was brought back to life in the last five days, peo­ple close to the trans­ac­tion said. The talks between the Tatas and Bharti had be­gun a few months ago but by the end of Au­gust the ne­go­ti­a­tions were not go­ing any­where. Sources in both com­pa­nies in­di­cated till the end of Septem­ber that no deal was pos­si­ble. Mean­while, there were talks with other groups as well in­clud­ing Re­liance Jio for a pos­si­ble merger deal. That too didn’t work. The Tatas were now clearly look­ing at a clo­sure of the tele­com busi­ness and had be­gun sound­ing out cus­tomers and em­ploy­ees last month. Top of­fi­cials of the Tata group in­clud­ing CFO Sau­rabh Agrawal and Tata Tele MD N Sri­nath vis­ited the Depart­ment of Tele­com head­quar­ters in New Delhi last Fri­day (Oc­to­ber 6) to in­form the govern­ment about the clo­sure of the tele­com busi­ness.

But, Tata Sons chair­man N Chan­drasekaran, or Chan­dra as he’s re­ferred to, did not give up. In me­dia in­ter­views last week­end, Chan­dra said a tough call may have to be taken for the tele­com busi­ness and that var­i­ous op­tions were be­ing con­sid­ered. It is learnt that Chan­dra met se­nior rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the govern­ment in­clud­ing the Prime Min­is­ter’s Of­fice (PMO) re­cently to dis­cuss the tele­com busi­ness. The govern­ment, sources said, is aware of the stress in the tele­com in­dus­try and would not want any busi­ness to shut down at such a crit­i­cal time.

From the last week­end (Septem­ber 30), things started mov­ing. Bharti chair­man Su­nil Mit­tal flew to Mum­bai to meet Chan­dra and his A team in­clud­ing Sau­rabh Agrawal and clinched the deal, sources said. ‘’Yes, all in five days,’’ a source in the know con­firmed. There was no need to open the draw­ing board all over again be­cause dis­cus­sions had taken place ear­lier.

The two chair­men signed on the dot­ted line to merge their tele­com busi­nesses.

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