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Airtel to acquire Tikona Networks' 4G biz

Mumbai. Telecom major Bharti Airtel on Thursday said it will acquire 4G business of Tikona Networks, including broadband spectrum and 350 sites across 5 circles, for about Rs 1,600 crore.

"Bharti Airtel shall acquire the 4G busienss of Tikona" for "approximately Rs 1,600 crore for the transaction" , the company said in a regulatory filing. Tikona currently has 20 MHz spectrum in the 2,300 MHz band in Gujarat, UP (East), UP (West), Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh circles.

With this acquisition, Airtel will be second company, after Reliance Jio, in the country to have pan-India presence in 2300 Mhz band - which has second largest ecosystem of 4G devices.

"We believe that combining our capacities in TD-LTE (4G technology for 2300 Mhz band) and FD-LTE (technology for 1800 Mhz and other spectrum bands) will further bolster our network, and help us provide unmatched high-speed wireless broadband experience to our customers," Bharti Airtel MD & CEO (India & South Asia) Gopal Vittal said.

As per the Nokia MBIT report, 97 per cent 4G devices being used in India are compatible with 4G services provided using 1800 Mhz band, earlier called 2G spectrum, and 90 per cent are compatible with 2300 Mhz band.

"...the acquisition of the 4G business in Gujarat, UP (East), UP (West) and Himachal Pradesh will be undertaken by Airtel, while in the Rajasthan circle, it will be accomplished through Airtel's subsidiary Bharti Hexacom Limited," Airtel said in a statement.

Airtel plans to roll-out high speed 4G services on the newly acquired spectrum in the five circles immediately after the closure of the transaction, it added. Post-acquisition, the combined spectrum holding of Airtel in these five circles will be within the spectrum caps prescribed by the government.

"The deal will significantly bolster Airtel's spectrum position in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, taking its overall BWA spectrum holding to 30 MHz each in these circles. Post completion of the deal, Airtel will have 30 MHz in the 2300 MHz band in 13 circles giving it tremendous advantage to handle the surging data demand," the statement said. Trilegal was the lead legal counsel for Goldman Sachs in sale of its shareholding in Tikona to Bharti Airtel.