27 March 2017
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
Bharti Airtel has continued the rapid consolidation in the Indian mobile business by buying the 4G business of Tikona Digital Networks for the equivalent of $244 million.
The deal will give Airtel extra spectrum in the 2,300GHz
band in five service districts, or circles, as well as access
to 350 base stations.
Gopal Vittal, CEO of Airtel’s operations in India
and South Asia, said: "Airtel’s continued focus on
strengthening its 4G capabilities across multiple spectrum
bands will be complemented with the BWA [broadband wireless
access] spectrum acquisition from Tikona."
Tikona began as a Wifi-only operation but
bid in 3G and 4G auctions. Axiata dropped a proposal to buy the
company in 2012. The company raised $45 million in 2014,
largely from existing investors, including the World
Bank’s International Finance Corporation
– which put in $25 million – plus Goldman
Sachs, Oak Investment, Everstone Capital and L&T
Following the purchase, Airtel will have 2,300MHz spectrum in
all parts of India, and plans to launch LTE services on the
spectrum bought from Tikona in the five new areas, as soon as
the deal is completed.
Airtel is also spending an estimated $300 million on buying Telenor’s business in
Last week Vodafone India and Idea Cellular said they
were merging, to create India’s largest mobile
operator, worth an estimated $23 billion.