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|October 6, 1998||
Bharti-BT wins VSAT licenceThe Department of Telecommunications has finally given its approval for the transfer of the VSAT license to Bharti-BT from Wipro-British Telecom.
Bharti Enterprises Chairman and Group Managing Director Sunil Mittal has confirmed the transfer of the licence to the Bharti-BT partnership.
Wipro-BT was incorporated in June 1995, therefore, the partnership completed three years in June 1998. Following the change in the licence norms recently, the Bharti-BT joint venture has been cleared as it met the three-year lock-in condition.
In August last year Bharti acquired the entire 50 per cent stake of Wipro in the joint venture and renamed it Bharti-BT. Wipro continued with the email business of the company while BT retained the VSAT business.
But the Telecom Commission had serious objections to the change in partner. Wipro, being replaced by the Bharti Telecom, was seen as a backdoor entry in the existing joint venture.
While the VSAT licence conditions did not envisage a change in partners, DoT proposed a three-year lock-in period at the time the Bharti-BT partnership came up for review earlier this year.
At that time Bharti changed hands with Wipro but the lock-in period of three years had not been completed.
Therefore, the Department of Telecommunications was of the view that Wipro should have surrendered its VSAT licence to the DoT. It was argued that "If Wipro had its own compulsions to walk out, they should, in all fairness, surrender the licence so that the government can follow an equitable procedure and consider giving the licence to some other aspirant."
While this was one view, the finance ministry held that in interest of commercial viability, the request of Wipro-BT should be examined in the larger perspective.
Interestingly, the Bharti-BT venture got an approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board but was not granted permission from the Telecom Commission.
Following this, the company was asked to submit a fresh proposal with all the details for examining the request further.
- Compiled from the Indian media
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