Bharti Infratel on Monday said it will explore acquiring an additional stake in Indus Towers, a move likely to create India’s largest mobile tower company.
“The board of directors of Bharti Infratel Ltd, in their meeting held on October 30, 2017, has decided to explore and evaluate acquisition of stake in one or more tranches in Indus Towers Ltd with the aim of making it a subsidiary or wholly owned subsidiary of Bharti Infratel Ltd,” the company said in a statement.
Bharti Infratel and Vodafone India hold 42 per cent stake in Indus Towers and rest is held by Idea Cellular.
The deal, if it happens, will create India’s largest mobile tower company with about two and half times the size of its nearest rival BSNL, as per the industry figures.
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The move comes at a time when its joint venture partners in Indus Towers — Vodafone and Idea Cellular in the process of merging their mobile business and exploring option to exit from telecom tower business.
Indus had 1,23,073 mobile towers and Bharti Infratel owned 39,264 towers on standalone basis at the end of September. Both the companies jointly command 40.8 per cent market share in terms of installed mobile tower base in the country.
State-run BSNL has around 66,000 mobile towers at present.
Complete acquisition of Indus Towers will give Bharti Infratel command to negotiate on rentals for putting mobile base stations on its towers when telecom operators are looking to expand their network coverage specially for providing high speed data services.
As per statement of Bharti Enterprise Vice Chairman Akhil Gupta last month, telecom operators in the country are expected to invest USD 20 billion (around 1.3 lakh crore) in the next two years and half of it will be made on telecom infrastructure.
The three largest customers of Bharti Infratel and Indus are Bharti Airtel (together with Bharti Hexacom), Vodafone India and Idea Cellular.
Bharti Infratel reported revenue of Rs 3,648 crore in the July-September 2017 which included contribution of Rs 1,990.5 crore from Indus Towers. The share of Bharti Infratel revenue implies that the corresponding figure for Indus Towers during the reported quarter was around Rs 4,700 crore.
Shares of Bharti Infratel closed at Rs 429.9 a unit, up by 2.52 per cent compared to the previous close on the BSE on Monday.