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​Brookfield nears deal for Reliance Communications’ telecom tower arm

09 September, 2016

Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management Inc is set to acquire a majority stake in the telecom tower unit of Anil Ambani-led Reliance Communications Ltd, two media reports said. 

The stake sale in Reliance Infratel Ltd will help RCom slash its debt, the reports said, adding that it will retain a minority stake in the tower company.

Both parties signed a non-binding pact in July and Ambani plans to keep a 25% stake in the business, The Economic Times said.

RCom and Brookfield did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this article.

For Brookfield, a deal for Reliance Infratel will be its latest attempt to ramp up focus on India. The Canadian alternative asset manager has struck two deals in the country in the past two years. It acquired some road assets from Gammon Infrastructure Projects Ltd in August last year and bought a majority stake in a string of industrial parks in Delhi-NCR from Unitech in 2014.

In July, Brookfield tied up with State Bank of India to invest as much as Rs 7,000 crore ($1.04 billion) in stressed assets.

Meanwhile, RCom is also in talks to merge its wireless business with Aircel, again as part of its exercise to reduce debt. Its net debt was Rs 41,362.1 crore at the end of March 2016.

RCom holds almost 96% of Reliance Infratel while the remaining stake is held by George Soros’ Quantum, New Silk Route and other investors.

The company had informed the stock exchanges in May last year that it invited proposals from investment bankers to sell its tower business.  

In December 2015, RCom said it had signed a non-binding pact with a consortium of private equity fund TPG and Tillman Holdings to sell Reliance Infratel.

However, TPG walked away from the deal after RCom declined to accept TPG’s valuation of Rs 13,000 crore to Rs 15,000 crore for the tower business. Ambani was seeking a valuation of Rs 21,500 for the assets,  according to a report in The Economic Times earlier this year.

Reliance Infratel owns around 45,200 towers and is the country’s third-largest tower company after Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers. Bharti Infratel also owns a stake in Indus Towers.

The telecom tower segment in India has seen some consolidation activity in recent years. 

US-based ATC Towers acquired a 51% stake in Viom Networks for Rs 7,635 crore ($ 1.25 billion) in October 2015. In April 2015, ATC bought the tower business  of RPG Group’s KEC International

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​Brookfield nears deal for Reliance Communications’ telecom tower arm

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