By 06 August, 2009

Indian cellular firm Aircel, 74 percent owned by Malaysia's Maxis, has shortlisted four firms including American Tower and Bharti Infratel to conduct due diligence as its looks to sell part or all of its holding in its tower operations, said two sources with direct knowledge.

Aircel, which is India's No. 7 mobile operator and owns about 12,000 towers, values the asset at between $1 billion and $1.6 billion, the sources said. The company is looking to offload 51 percent to 100 percent of its tower business, the sources said.

A spokeswoman for Aircel, when contacted by Reuters for a comment, said: "No comment. These are all speculation."

Tower operators Crown Castle and Tata-Quippo are the other two suitors who would go through Aircel's books, starting next week, the sources said.

"We will allow due diligence from early next week for about five, six weeks after which the binding offers will start coming," one source involved in the deal said.

Both the sources declined to be named as they are not authorised to speak to media.

Standard Chartered, Nomura and Rothschild are advising Aircel in the deal, they said, adding that GTL Infrastructure, Reliance Infratel and at least one private-equity firm had also shown interest in the towers.

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