SC approves settlement between RCom and Ericsson India over payment dispute

Supreme Court of India | File photo
The Supreme Court on Friday approved the settlement arrived at between Reliance Communications Ltd (RCom) and Ericsson India Pvt Ltd over a payment dispute and asked the Anil Ambani-led firm to pay Rs 5.5 billion to the company by September 30.

Ericsson India Pvt Ltd, which had signed a seven-year deal in 2014 to operate and manage RCom's nationwide telecom network, had alleged that it had not been paid the dues.

A bench comprising Justices R F Nariman and Indu Malhotra perused the May 30 interim order of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) and noted that Ericsson India Pvt Ltd was willing to settle its debt of over Rs 15 billion for a sum of Rs 5.5 billion which was to be paid by RCom within 120 days.

"We are of the view that this timeline shall be strictly adhered to and payment of Rs 5.5 billion be made on or before September 30, 2018," the apex court said in its order.

The bench asked the chairman of RCom to give an undertaking in this regard within a week.

The top court also noted in its order that lawyers appearing for the joint lenders forum and Ericsson India Pvt Ltd have agreed to it.

"Needless to say, the sale of the assets concerned will go through as has been stated in the orders of the tribunal and appellate tribunal," the bench said and posted the matter for further hearing on October 1.

The NCLAT's May 30 order had cleared the way for RCom to sell its telecom towers, spectrum and fiber assets to Reliance Jio.
Reliance Jio is buying RCom for about Rs 180 billion and would also take over spectrum payment liability worth Rs 70 billion.

The deal is expected to partly reduce exposure of RCom lenders. The company is estimated to have a debt of around Rs 450 billion.

On May 15, the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) had admitted Ericsson's plea for beginning of insolvency proceedings against RCom.

Ericsson India had moved the NCLT to recover its dues by auctioning RCom. RCom lenders had also opposed the NCLT order.