NCLT May Take a Call on RCom-Aircel Merger Plan Today
DoT suggests that both cos should first get SC clearance; lenders give consent
Devina Sengupta & Deepali Gupta
Mumbai: The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) is expected to take a call on whether to admit Reliance Communications’ merger proposal with Aircel on Thursday even as the telecom department suggested that the proposed partners should first get clearance from the Supreme Court.
Reliance Communications’ lenders China Development Bank, Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC have given their consent before NCLT for the merger proposal to be admitted by the tribunal for a final hearing.
However, equipment supplier Ericsson, which has outstanding dues to recover from RCom, and GTL Infrastructure’s Chennai Network Infrastructure, which had bought 17,500 mobile towers from Aircel, have objected to the merger proposal being heard by the tribunal. An NCLT bench of judges BSV Prakash Kumar and V Nallasenapathy will continue to hear the admission plea on Thursday when it is expected to take a final call.
The telecom department (DoT), represented by senior council Beni Chatterji, told the tribunal that it would be appropriate for Aircel and RCom to take permission from Supreme Court since the issue with regard to 2 G spectrum of Aircel is pending there. ET had on Monday, reported that DoT would stand in the way of the merger until it has clarity from the apex court.
Ericsson’s lawyer said that despite repeated reminders, the company had not received any notice from RCom on a meeting regarding the proposed merger. RCom & Ericsson lawyers disagreed on the quantum of dues the former owed to the latter.
Chennai Network, represented by senior counsel R Kadam, said a meeting of all the creditors was not called and “they need to know the impact of the merger before taking the call”.
“RCom’s liabilities will become
NOTE OF DISSENT
part of Aircel,” he said. “If liabilities increase, whether it affects me or not will only be decided after meeting of creditors of Aircel.” Kadam said that as per his client’s agreement with Aircel, if there is any change of control, all outstanding payments will be paid before the merger takes place. China Development Bank, represented by senior counsel Darius Khambata, told the NCLT bench that although its objections remained, the bank has been assured that no asset will be transferred in the RCom-Aircel merger without its written consent.