American Tower Corporation (ATC), one of the world’s largest standalone telecom tower firm, is in talks to acquire Gurgaon-based Independent Mobile Infrastructure Ltd (IMIL). This development comes just two weeks after ATC’s acquisition of Xcel Telecom for around Rs 800 crore. IMIL has a presence in 10 circles with around 400 towers, of which only 125 have tenants, reports Economic Times. Since the occupancy is low, the company is expected to get a valuation of Rs 120 crore at the upper end, the report added.
IMIL was founded by Jide J Zeitlin, a former partner at Goldman Sachs, in 2006 and is promoted by his private equity firm Keffi Group. The firm is now reportedly closing down most of its India operations.
The telecom infrastructure is rapidly consolidating with independent players looking to expand quickly to grab business from new telecom operators. Now, three main independent tower operators – GTL Infrastructure, Tata-Quippo combine and American Tower Corporation – are competing among themselves and with captive operators for the market.
Captive players like Indus Towers (a JV of Bharti, Vodafone and Idea), Reliance Telecom Infrastructure and Bharti Infratel currently dominate the market.
ATC has around 2,000 tower sites in 15 telecom circles after its acquisition of Xcel Telecom. Biggest independent player in the country is Tata-Quippo with aroound 18,000 towers. It’s also said to be in talks for a merger with Essar Telecom Infrastructure, an independent firm with 4,500 towers. GTL Infrastructure Ltd is another player with around 7,000-8,000 towers.
Also valuation of telecom towers have been dipping. Bharti Infratel Ltd and Reliance Infratel Ltd valued towers at around Rs 1.6 crore when they divested stake in 2007. In the Tata-Quippo merger towers were valued at Rs 78 lakh, while in the more recent ATC’s acquisition of Xcel Telecom valued them at Rs 47 lakh.