Reliance Communications on Tuesday announced that it has sought a 60-day extension from the Supreme Court to repay Rs 550 crore to its unsecured creditor, Swedish telecom major Ericsson. In a BSE filing on Tuesday, the company blamed the Department of Telecommunications for creating hurdles in its attempt to sell spectrum to Reliance Jio. This prevented it from paying Ericsson, it said.
The statement came after reports said Ericsson had filed a contempt petition in the Supreme Court against Reliance Communication chief Anil Ambani.
The company, which is in debt of about Rs 46,000 crore, has not been able to close its spectrum sale to Jio because the Department of Telecommunications has said it must pay up the spectrum dues first, according to The Economic Times. The company is hoping to sell its assets to Jio and some other firms in a bid to pare its debt.
“Ericsson India Private Limited (‘Ericsson’), an unsecured creditor of RCOM, is understood to have filed a contempt petition on 1 October, 2018, in the Supreme Court in relation to the settlement amount of Rs 550 crore to be paid by RCom,” the company said in its BSE filing. “This filing is unwarranted. RCom has already filed an application on 28th September, 2018, in the Supreme Court [which is to be heard on 4th October, 2018], praying for extension of time for making payment to Ericsson by 60 days.”
It added: “The extension has been sought purely due to the fact that, as approved by 38 secured lenders and as per RCom’s undertaking, Ericsson is to be paid from the sales proceeds of spectrum being traded by RCOM, and such sale could not be completed as yet owing to factors beyond the control of RCom.”
Though Reliance Communications filed an application for approval of the sale with the Department of Telecommunications on August 7, the department “unjustly sought securitisation of alleged demands [which are wholly disputed] for Spectrum Usage Charges amounting to Rs 2,900 crores”, the statement said. Reliance challenged this in the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal. Multiple hearings have taken place at the tribunal, and it passed an interim order on October 1, the company said.
“The copy of the order passed by TDSAT on October 1, 2018, is, however, still awaited and expected shortly,” it said. “RCom, as duty bound, shall duly abide by such directions and orders as may be passed by the Supreme Court upon the matter being heard on October 4, 2018.”