Bharti Infratel plans to acquire parent Bharti Airtel’s telecom towers in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh

Telecom tower firm Bharti Infratel Ltd is mulling to acquire telecom towers owned by its parent Bharti Airtel in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, as part of its plans to strengthen its presence to cater to the growing demand of the telecom companies, a senior executive of the company told The Economic Times. 

Bharti Infratel, India's largest listed tower company, might also look at buying telecom towers of other mobile services providers like Vodafone and Idea Cellular in India if they plan to sell, the paper said. 

“We could look at the Indian subcontinent — Bangladesh and Sri Lanka — acquiring towers from Airtel… Both Airtel and Infratel boards will have to be satisfied that it is a fair transaction," Bharti Infratel Chairman Akhil Gupta told the paper. 

"In India, the consolidation for us would be, for instance, a Vodafone which has got towers in our seven circles, or an Idea. We'll look at it if there is a possibility," he added.

At present, Bharti Airtel has 4,000 towers in Bangladesh and 2,800-odd towers in Sri Lanka. The company is said to be in dire need of capital to invest in its networks in the two countries and also to bring down its mounting debt of Rs 60,541 crore, as of March 2014. 

On the other side, Vodafone India has over 25,000 towers in India, while Aditya Birla Group-owned Idea Cellular has over 9,400. These towers are separate from the assets of Indus Towers, a three-way joint venture between Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular. 

Bharti Infratel is one of the largest tower infrastructure providers in India with 35,900 towers in 11 telecom circles across India. The company, which went public in 2012, has 42 per cent stake in Indus Towers which has 112,144 towers in 15 telecom circles across India.

Shares of Bharti Infratel were last trading at Rs 246.80 per share, down 1.67 per cent from its previous close on the BSE.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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