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Asim Abbas, Partner, Khaitan & Co.

March 31, 2014
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A former civil services officer, Asim Abbas, partner, Khaitan & Co., has 22 years of experience in the telecom and IT industries. Having joined the civil services in 1991, he had the opportunity to work closely with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) on major policy issues. His last assignment before resigning from the civil services in 2000 was as director, tariffs and costing, DoT.

Talking about his enriching work experience at DoT, Abbas says, “My role at the department gave me the opportunity to take the lead in fixing tariffs for telecom services, provide inputs on policy formulation regarding the licence agreement with operators, and assist in fixing settlement rates with foreign carriers.”

Abbas is an alumnus of St Stephen’s College, Delhi University, and has a degree in law from the Campus Law Centre, Delhi. He quit the civil services to take up corporate law. Over the years, he has worked with leading law firms and served as vice-president, legal, Bharti Airtel. Currently, partner, technology, media and telecom, Khaitan & Co., Abbas’s focus is on assisting and advising companies on regulatory, contractual and transactional matters in the telecom, IT and broadcasting industries.

Amongst the many challenging projects that he has undertaken so far, Abbas identifies his role at Bharti Airtel as his most exciting. At Bharti Airtel, he was legal head of regulatory litigation, enterprise division and broadband, and was also involved in advising the company on joint ventures in agriculture, insurance and retail. According to him, one of the challenging assignments he dealt with was the negotiation and finalisation of a $1.5 billion IT outsourcing deal between Bharti Airtel and IBM. “This IT outsourcing agreement and other network outsourcing agreements of Bharti Airtel with Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola defined a new business model of operating telecom networks and doing business in the telecom sector. These agreements presented huge challenges because of the absence of any precedent and past experience,” he says.

As regards the future road map for the telecom sector, he is optimistic that the liberalised spectrum regime, the New Telecom Policy, 2012, enhanced 100 per cent foreign direct investment limit, and the new merger and acquisition guidelines will facilitate consolidation in the industry.

His idea of unwinding is spending time with his family and reading Urdu poetry as well as books on history and religion.

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