Grapevine: Brookfield, RIL set to ink tower deal; WestBridge may bet on Rapido
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Canadian investment firm Brookfield Asset Management and billionaire Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd are likely to sign a term sheet within 10 days for a telecom tower deal, a media report said.

The deal involves RIL selling unit Reliance Jio Infratel Pvt. Ltd’s portfolio of 170,000 towers to halve its telecom debt, The Economic Times reported, citing people close to the development. Ambani is also likely to invest in Jio’s towers in his personal capacity.

Reliance Jio Infratel is India's biggest tower company, the report said, adding that it is currently valued around Rs 36,000 crore ($5 billion). The valuation is likely to rise to $7 billion once the build-out phase is completed, the report said.

A final binding agreement is due to be signed by early August, the report said.

If the deal goes through, it would be the second transaction between Brookfield and Reliance. The Canadian investor leads a consortium that agreed to acquire a gas pipeline from companies controlled by Ambani for $1.9 billion.

In another report, The Economic Times said that telecom companies Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Idea Ltd are planning to turn their proposed optic fibre network joint venture into an infrastructure investment trust (InvIT) that can attract long-term investors.

The move would also reduce the two companies' debt and free up cash to compete with Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd, the telecom arm of RIL. 

The combined fibre optic firm might be announced by the end of this month, the report said, citing a person aware of the discussions between Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea. 

The InvIT structure is an attractive proposition for investors such as global pension funds given the regular income and the tax benefits on the income, he added.

The merged entity will have a network of 400,000 route km of optic fibre, the largest in the country, and will be valued at around Rs 35,000-40,000 crore, the report said.

Meanwhile, Bengaluru-based bike taxi startup Rapido is in the final stages of closing a $50 million round of funding, The Economic Times reported, citing two people briefed on the development.

Private equity firm WestBridge Capital might invest $30 million to lead the round that could value Rapido around $150-200 million, the report said. It added that the round might be stretched by another $10 million if talks with a second new investor go through.

Existing investors AdvantEdge, Astarc Ventures, Integrated Capital and Skywatcher Fund are also likely to participate in the new round, the report said.

Rapido, operated by Roppen Transportation Services Pvt. Ltd, had raised $10 million in a Series A funding round led by Hong Kong-based investment firm Integrated Capital earlier this year.

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