A former ISRO official who headed Devas Multimedia the Bangalore-based company whose agreement with Antrix Corporation for lease of a part of S-band spectrum was cancelled by the government last year has stepped down from his position ahead of the expected start of the arbitration proceedings to settle the Devas-Antrix dispute.
M G Chandrasekhar,who was chairman of the Board of Directors,has been replaced by Lawrence T Babbio,a former vice-chairman and president of Verizon,the largest telecommunications operator in the US,a company statement said on Thursday.
Sources close to the company said the appointment of Babbio as chairman appeared to have been prompted by several factors including his high profile corporate leadership roles,and significant experience in dealing with litigation issues. The reshaping of the Board was clearly seemed to be an attempt at enabling the company to negotiate a successful resolution of its dispute with Antrix,they said.
The Board,with regret,has accepted Dr Chandrasekhars resignation and noted its appreciation for the able leadership rendered during his tenure as chairman. Chandrasekhar will continue to serve as a director of the company, the statement said.
The presence of a few former officials of ISRO in the management team of Devas Multimedia was one of the reasons cited to buttress allegations of favouritism shown to the company by Antrix. The contract was meant to give Devas a 12-year lease of 70 MHz of S-band spectrum of the 150 MHz that ISRO owns for starting satellite-based multimedia services on hand-held mobile devices. For this,ISRO was to launch two satellites,90 per cent of whose transponder capacity was to be utilised by Devas.
The change of guard at Devas comes just weeks before the arbitration proceedings are expected to begin. The contract between Devas and Antrix,which is the marketing arm of ISRO,provided for a settlement of dispute through arbitration in the event of the deal going wrong. Devas had invoked the arbitration clause in June last year,shortly after the government announced that it was cancelling the deal because the S-band spectrum needed to be utilised for national and strategic purposes.
Antrix,which has moved the Supreme Court seeking a stay on the arbitration proceedings,is unlikely to participate in the process. An ISRO spokesperson said Antrix would wait for the SC verdict. Strangely,Antrix has also moved a local court in Bangalore making a similar plea when its case in the Supreme Court is still pending.