Reliance Communications to sell tower unit for Rs 11,000 crore


Reliance Communications (RCom) of the Anil Ambani group has signed binding agreements with Canada-based Brookfield Infrastructure and institutional partners to sell its tower business for an upfront cash payment of Rs 11,000 crore

The already-announced combination of RCom’s wireless business with Aircel, and the monetisation of the tower business, will together reduce RCom’s overall debt by Rs 31,000 crore ($ 4.6 billion), or nearly 70 per cent of existing debt.

RCom will also receive Class B non-voting shares in the new tower company, providing 49 per cent future economic upside in the towers business, based on certain conditions. “RCom expects significant future value creation from the B Class shares, based on growth in tenancies arising from increasing 4G roll-out by all telecom operators and fast accelerating data consumption,” the company said.

RCom shares rose by 6.85 per cent to Rs 37.45 on the BSE soon after the announcement.

“The transaction will represent the largest-ever investment by any overseas financial investor in the infrastructure sector in India, and is a strong reflection of the confidence of the international investment community in the long term growth potential of the Indian economy,” it said.

RCom’s telecom towers will be demerged into a separate new company that will be 100 per cent owned and independently managed by Brookfield Infrastructure, thereby creating the second largest independent and operator-neutral towers company in India, it said in a statement.

RCom will enjoy certain information and other rights, but will not be involved directly or indirectly the management and operations of the new company.

RCom and Reliance Jio will continue as major long term tenants of the new tower company, along with other existing third party telecom operators. “RCom will utilise the upfront cash payment of Rs 11,000 crore ($1.6 billion) solely to reduce its debt,” RCom said.

The Ambani firm will continue to hold 50 per cent stake in the wireless business combination with Aircel and the 49 per cent future economic upside in the towers business, and will monetise these valuable assets at an appropriate time in the future to further substantially reduce its overall debt.

“The implementation of the spectrum trading and sharing arrangements with Reliance Jio to secure a nationwide 4G footprint with the deepest penetration and the most efficient 850 megahertz (MHz) band spectrum; the merger of the Indian telecom business of Sistema Shyam Telecom Ltd.; the combination of the wireless business with Aircel to derive operational and revenue synergies and achieve further industry consolidation; and the monetisation of the towers business in this transaction with Brookfield Infrastructure, are all important milestones in RCOM’s deleveraging and asset light strategy for future growth,” RCom said in a statement.

The transaction is subject to applicable approvals, including shareholder and regulatory approvals and lenders’ consents.