Bharti Infratel, Indus Towers push back deadline for merger yet again
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Bharti Infratel Ltd and Indus Towers Ltd have once again extended a deadline for a planned multi-billion-dollar merger between the two telecom tower companies.

Bharti Infratel, the tower arm of mobile phone operator Bharti Airtel Ltd, said in a stock-exchange filing on Wednesday that the deadline to complete the transaction has been extended to August 31 from June 24.

Bharti Infratel said the deadline was deferred because the conditions required to be fulfilled for the merger to become effective could not be completed. Both companies retain the right to terminate the deal, it added.

This is the third time this year alone that the companies have extended the deadline. The companies had previously stretched the deadline from February 24 to April 24, and then until June 24.

The deal was first announced in April 2018. As part of the deal, telecom majors Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular Ltd and Vodafone Group Plc, along with private equity firm Providence Equity Partners, had agreed to merge their respective shareholdings in Indus Towers into Bharti Infratel.

The merger, which would create the second-biggest telecom tower company in the world behind only the state-owned China Tower, was initially expected to close by the end of March 2019. But it was delayed last year, and the companies had set themselves a new deadline of October 24, 2019. However, that didn’t happen either. Meanwhile, Idea and Vodafone have merged into Vodafone Idea Ltd.

Bharti Airtel owns a 53.51% stake in Bharti Infratel. The tower firm is backed by private equity firm KKR & Co. and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. KKR and CPPIB had picked up a stake in Bharti Infratel in March 2017.

In 2018, when the deal was announced, Indus Towers’ enterprise value was pegged at Rs 71,500 crore ($10.8 billion then). The merged entity’s equity value worked out to be Rs 96,500 crore ($14.6 billion then).

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