Bharti to buy Loop Mobile in Rs700-cr deal: report

Bharti Airtel Ltd, India's top cellular carrier, has agreed to acquire Mumbai-based Loop Mobile in a Rs700-crore deal, including Rs400 crore in debt

The deal would take Bharti's subscriber base in the metro to about 7 million.

Bharti Airtel has around 4 million customers in Mumbai as per SEBI data while Loop Mobile has 3 million subscribers in Mumbai.

The acquisition will takeBharti's subscriber base in the metro to over 7 million, against Vodafone's 6.9 million customers (as of November), the biggest operator in the city at present.

Besides the 3 million subscribers, Loop Mobile has about 2,000 operational mobile tower sites, including 400 owned by the company, apart from its optic fibre network and electronic equipment, which would all help Bharti Airtel service its expanded customer base in Mumbai.

Under the slump sale, Bharti Airtel would also assume the Rs400 crore debt of Loop, reports said, adding that the company is likely to announce the acquisition in a couple of days.

Loop's spectrum licence is expiring in the last quarter of this year. The company, which holds 8 MHz of radio waves in the 900 MHz band was required to participate in the just-concluded auction to win back its spectrum for continuing operations. The company, however, did not participate in the auction.

Bharti Airtel, however, participated in the auctions and bought premium 900 MHz spectrum in Mumbai service area for about Rs2,800 crore. (See: RIL's 900 MHz hopes dashed; govt to collect Rs61,162.22 cr from auction).

The deal will pass muster even under current merger and acquisition rules, although the government is about to announce new M&A guidelines.