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Tikona receives FIPB nod, decks cleared for raising Rs 2.48 bn

MUMBAI: Tikona Digital Network (TDN), the company founded by Prakash Bajpai in mid 2008 to provide secured wireless broadband services, has received the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) nod to raise Rs 248 crore (Rs 2.48 billion) through Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

The fund will be raised through issue of compulsorily convertible debentures (CCDs) and equity shares to the existing NRI investors on a rights basis. This will enable Tikona’s overseas investors to increase the stake in the company up to 72.58 per cent.

TDN currently has investors like Goldman Sachs, Oak Investment Partners and Everstone Capital Advisors.

Private equity company Goldman Sachs holds a 40 per cent stake in TDN. Oak Investment Partners holds 20 per cent while Everstone has a 10 per cent stake in the company.

L&T Infrastructure Finance Company Limited has acquired a 4 per cent stake earlier and the remaining 26 per cent is held by Tikona Trust, which is spearheaded by Bajpai.

Now that the FIPB nod has been secured, the company can allow its overseas investors to raise their holding in the company.

Tikona is apparently looking at roping in a buyer. As per media reports, Malaysian mobile operator Axiata has been holding discussions with Tikona to pick up a stake in the company.

Leading international companies such as Google Capital and Microsoft were in a race to buy stakes in Tikona, as per an ‘Economic Times’ report published in August 2013.

The company, which is operating in the high growth business and planning to offer technology-driven product, is seeking funds to roll out the fourth-generation or 4G network across five states.

It had planned to launch 4G services in the second half of 2013 at 2 paise to 5 paise per MB in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh (east and west) and Himachal Pradesh.

TDN offers secured wireless broadband services to 2.85 lakh homes, 14,000 companies and 10,000 small- and medium-sized enterprises to home and enterprise customers in 25 cities across the country.

The area under TDN’s operations, in which it is now planning to roll out its 4G network, covers 29 per cent of the country’s population and accounts for 24 per cent of the total telecom revenue.

The company has an all-India Class-A ISP licence granted by the Ministry of Communications. It paid about Rs 1,058 crore (Rs 10.58 billion) to purchase 4G licences in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh East and West, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh.

It is already in the process of building a comprehensive services framework that would help it to deliver class-leading voice, video, IT applications and multimedia content services over any broadband or IP-centric network.

The company’s in-house developed technology will be used by several global internet service providers who wish to offer next-generation services to their customers. The company has engaged best-in-class technology partners to build required capability frameworks.

Tikona has won the BWA (4G) spectrum covering a population of 300 million in 5 circles—Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh (East), Uttar Pradesh (West) and Himachal Pradesh.

Tikona Infinet (formerly HCL Infinet) offers managed enterprise data services across India.

Meanwhile, leading players in the telecom sector have already initiated steps to take advantage of the changing business environment owing to the advancement in technology.

Airtel has started offering 4G services in India. Reliance Communication is also accelerating.

Recently, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio Infocomm entered into a comprehensive telecom infrastructure sharing arrangement under which they will share infrastructure created by both parties. This will include inter- and intra-city optic fibre networks, submarine cable networks, towers and internet broadband services and other such opportunities identified in the future.