Reliance Communications has negotiated a new deal with the lender: Anil Ambani

Vastavam web: Anil Ambani today claimed his beleaguered Reliance Communications has negotiated a new deal with the lenders under which nearly Rs 40,000 crore will be raised through asset sales, averting an imminent takeover by the 35 local and foreign banks.The revival plan, which also has the backing of the Chinese lender which had dragged it to the National Company Law Tribunal for defaulting on USD 1.8 billion loan, involves sale of RCom’s residual spectrum, towers and realty assets, including the 125-acre DAKC, which is the operational headquarters of the group, and also a possible minority stake sale to a strategic investor, Ambani told reporters here.

Though the new plan lacked details, the news sent RCom stock rocketing 41 per cent intra-day and closing trade 32 per cent up at Rs 21.33 on BSE.The plan is part of a “moral finance” drive undertaken by the company which will help protect Reliance and the Ambani family goodwill in the market, he claimed.At the end of the process, the ‘new RCom’ will have debt of just Rs 6,000 crore down from Rs 45,000 crore in October, he claimed, adding RCom will serve only the low-capex and high-margin enterprise space hereon.However, both the deals fell through and RCom had to go back to the drawing board to present a new debt reduction plan in October, which spoke about a wider asset monetisation plan. It was forced to exit its consumer-facing wireless business in November.

The same plan has been approved by lenders after progress on each of the programmes, which include scrutiny of expressions of interest, followed by either binding or non- binding bids, Ambani said.It can be noted that the once-sunshine telecom industry has been bleeding through the nose ever since Reliance promoted-Jio entered the market in September 2016 with loads of free data for months and then at dirt-cheap tariff plans. The biggest surprise was merger announcement of Vodafone with Idea this March and the Tatas almost exiting the business by selling out to Airtel in a distress sale.RCom hopes to reduce debt by Rs 25,000 crore through the new plan, he said, adding an oversight committee headed by former RBI deputy governor SS Mundra and ex-Trai officials has sifted through bids and advance talks are on. The entire proceeds from the deal will be used to prepay loans, he said.

For the 125-acre DAKC, where the company has built 1.62 million sqft space, there is further headroom to expand the built-up area to 20 million sqft, and the company has spun an SPV to house the assets, which will be sold.HDFC Realty had valued DAKC at Rs 25,000 crore and the successful bidder will help reduce RCom’s debt by Rs 10,000 crore, he claimed, adding these twin asset sale programmes will help reduce the domestic banks’ exposure to the telecom sector by Rs 21,000 crore.Ambani said RCom conducted a long meeting with the lenders recently where the plan was discussed.Accompanied by wife Tina and son Anmol, Ambani, who got control over the telecom assets following a very bitter feud with his elder brother Mukesh following their father Dhirubhai’s death in 2002, said it has been a daunting process in which he learnt a lot.