Voda, Idea to sell tower assets to ATC for Rs 7850 crore

Telecom sector

Idea Cellular and Vodafone India have separately agreed to sell their respective standalone tower businesses in India to ATC Telecom Infrastructure Private Limited (ATC TIPL), owned by American Tower Corporation, for an aggregate enterprise value of Rs. 7,850 crore ($1.2 billion).

Both the telecom companies are in the process of merging their operations, which is expected to be completed next year and will displace Bharti Airtel as country's largest telecom operator.

By the end of the period, Vodafone India's operating cash flow was at Rs 1543 crore and the company's capex investment stood at Rs 2915 crore.

Idea and Vodafone's Indian unit are now merging in a move that will see them overtake Airtel as India's largest telecoms operator with more than 400 million subscribers. "The parties will work together to further the expansion of high-speed mobile networks in India", the statement said.

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For ATC, the deal strengthens its position in the Indian market. It is acquiring Vodafone's towers for INR38.5 billion ($592 million) and Idea's for INR40 billion ($615 million), with the transaction due to go ahead in Q1 2018 once it receives all necessary approvals from regulators. The American company had earlier acquired a controlling stake in Viom Networks.

In a statement, American Tower's CEO Jim Taiclet said, "We expect the addition of these two high-quality portfolios to be highly complementary to our existing assets and to contribute to long-term leasing growth as India's leading mobile operators accelerate their 4G network deployments".

Idea, the third-biggest Indian network operator by revenue and subscribers, said on Monday it suffered a net loss of 11.07 billion rupees in its second quarter ended September 30, which compared with a net profit of 915 million rupees in the same period a year ago but was less than the 11.25 billion-rupee loss expected on average by analysts. The average revenue per user declined to Rs 146 from Rs 186 previous year following "stiff price competition", the company said.

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