September 26, 2022

Great Indian Mutiny

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Businessmen bid for India’s $14 billion spectrum auction

The battle for fifth generation radio waves India It is attracting some of the country’s richest tycoons, with billionaires Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani expected to pay $14 billion for frequency rights that will dominate the digital age.

Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd paid the highest pre-bid deposit, indicating that it will be the most aggressive bidder in the sale that begins on Tuesday, with surprise entrant Adani Data Networks Ltd. Competitors are trying to map out their telecom ambitions. Other bidders include wireless carriers Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Group Plc, led by billionaire Sunil Mittal, and Vodafone Idea Ltd, a joint venture of Kumar Mangalam Birla Group.

Adani’s empire, which overtook Ambani as Asia’s richest man earlier this year, could raise 1.1 trillion rupees ($14 billion) from the airwaves sale, according to a June estimate by local ratings firm Igra Ltd. A new playground for the group. He said his interest in 5G spectrum, “private network solutions” and improving cyber security at the company’s airports and ports means Ambani does not want to enter the consumer mobile space, which is currently dominated by him.

However, the move comes as the two men increasingly take similar positions, particularly investing in sectors traditionally associated with Adani Ambani, who entered India’s telecom sector nearly six years ago with services. India is at a critical juncture in its digital growth, with several companies, including multinationals such as Amazon.com Inc and Walmart Inc, vying for a piece of the intersection between mobile and the new e-commerce landscape.

However, speculations that 5G would become a flashpoint between Ambani and Adani were somewhat quelled after Adani Data paid Rs 1,000 crore as deposit for the bid. Brokerage firms consider payout as a key indicator of a bidder’s level of interest.

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Adani Data’s small deposit was in line with its announcement that it would only build a private 5G network and not become a full-fledged wireless carrier, helping to assuage some concerns amid industry headlines. Reliance Jio has deposited Rs 140 billion, significantly more than Bharti Airtel’s Rs 55 billion and Vodafone Idea’s Rs 22 billion, according to data provided by the government.

“Whether it’s Adani or Ambani, India stands to benefit from a massive 5G rollout,” said Utkarsh Sinha, managing director at boutique investment banking firm Bexley Advisors. “Adani’s entry shakes up entrenched Reliance Jio and the huge commitment of serious cash shows that they see value in 5G and can’t afford to lose it.”