Network vendor Sterlite, two investment firms also in the frame, but owners said to favour sale to single suitor

Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio Infocomm are both said to have submitted bids for various assets belonging to insolvent mobile operator Aircel.

Livemint reported on Thursday that network vendor Sterlite Technologies and two investment firms are also among the bidders. However, unnamed sources quoted in the report said Aircel’s lenders are keen to strike a deal with just one bidder.

"The bids have been received, but we are thinking of the possibility of a lump-sum sale, that is, give all of the assets to a single party. This should get better value for the assets," the source said.

Aircel filed for insolvency in March; it owes creditors around 500 billion rupees (€5.92 billion). Halfway through its 180-day insolvency resolution process, it emerged that the operator had yet to agree a plan to pay down its debt.

Since then, Aircel has moved forward with a plan to sell off assets in the hope of raising as much as INR25 billion.

According to Livemint’s report, Airtel is the sole bidder for Aircel’s spectrum. The company holds frequencies in the 2.1GHz, 1800MHz, and 900MHz bands. Jio is said to be the sole bidder for Aircel’s towers.

There is reportedly fierce competition for Aircel’s fibre assets, which have attracted interest from Jio, Sterlite, private equity firm I Squared Capital, and distressed asset fund Aion Capital.