Vodafone and Idea Cellular in $1.2bn deal to sell towers
American Tower spends $1.2bn on Vodafone India and Idea Cellular’s Indian towers ahead of mobile merger
Vodafone India and Idea Cellular – which are planning to merge – are selling their 20,000 mobile towers to a US company for $1.2 billion.
American Tower Corporation (ATC) has entered into a definitive agreement for the deal, which will be done through its 51% owned Viom Networks.
Viom, which will be renamed as ATC Telecom Infrastructure as part of the deal, is itself the result of a merger of two tower companies, including that of Tata Teleservices. It has around 42,200 towers at the moment.
ATC 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 Cellular and Vodafone India decided in March 2017 to merge their operations, and the deal is expected to be completed in early 2018 – though other Indian mergers have become unravelled before completion.
The tower deal is also expected to be complete in March 2018, say Indian media. Commentators in India have linked ATC with Reliance Infratel, which Reliance Communications (RCom) was hoping to sell to another North American investor until RCom’s merger with Aircel was cancelled in October.
Amit Sharma, executive vice president of ATC and chairman of the board of its new Indian operation, said: “We are extremely pleased to partner with Vodafone and Idea to help expand mobile broadband services across India while furthering our participation in the Digital India initiative.”