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Loop Mobile CEO quits as axe hangs on employees

Thursday, 22 May 2014 - 6:30am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Sandip Basu, managing director and chief executive officer of Loop Mobile, is said to have quit following Airtel's deal to take over the company, though he continues to attend office, according to sources.
When contacted, Basu in a text message denied he has quit, but did not take calls made to his cellphone.

According to those familiar with the deal, Basu has been given a severance package by Airtel, equal to his annual package but the amount could even be lower as there are several performance indicators to earn that one-year package, said a source not wanting to be identified.

According to market estimates, Basu's annual package was in the vicinity of Rs 2.5-Rs 3 crore.

A few key persons including Basu at Loop Mobile have been given retention fee in addition to their salaries by Airtel to stay till the time the takeover happens so that the customer base does not shrink further, according to a source.

Under the deal struck in February, Airtel will take over the customer base of Loop but not its employees.

"The agreement between Airtel and Loop has been only to the extent of its customer base and does not include the employees (of Loop)," said a company spokesperson at Airtel.

Job uncertainty after the Airtel deal has forced several Loop employees to look for other avenues. Interestingly, barring a few, most employees are not even aware that the deal with Airtel is only in lieu of customer-base and does not involve absorbing the existing 350 Loop employees within Airtel.

Meantime, the cash-strapped Loop, with over Rs 600 crore bank exposures, continues to face severe financial crunch leading to pending vendor bill payments and service issues. That explains the frequent call-drops for Loop subscribers.

The news of Loop exit and scouting for partners to swap its customer base for cash was first reported by dna in its December 3, 2013, edition.

Also read: Loop Mobile scouts for strategic partners to fund licence renewal

The falling quality of service at Loop has made over one lakh consumers migrate to other telcos as of March, according to the data published by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai). The present consumer base as of March stands at 2.89 million from its November 2013 levels of 3 million. Incidentally, the Cellular Operators' Association of India data shows the consumer base of Loop constant at 3 million for the last couple of months.

Meanwhile, Loop management has opted to remain non-committal towards its employees and many have begun jumping out of the sinking ship. "Most middle-management employees from corporate sales and relationship have found greener pastures in Vodafone. Others have time till the formal nod comes from the Department of Telecommunications for the Airtel-Loop agreement.

"As of now, the approval (to the deal) is awaited," said the Airtel spokesperson.

Till then, employees of Loop are hoping Modi government's growth policy would open new vistas for the redundant Loop Mobile staffers.

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