GTL May Not Need PE To Close Tower Deal, But Will Look At Good Deals

By Reuters

  • 30 Jun 2010

GTL Infrastructure, which on Sunday agreed to buy the telecoms tower business of Reliance Communications, said the deal does not require funding from private equity or strategic investors.

GTL Chairman Manoj Tirodkar also said on Wednesday the firm does not need additional capital for now. Media reports have said the companies may bring private equity investors into a merged tower business which will have an enterprise value of over $11 billion.



"At this stage, it (funding) may not be required. But we will see as we move along, because many people are approaching us," Tirodkar told Reuters by telephone.


Debt-laden Reliance Communications, India's second-largest cellular carrier, is controlled by billionaire Anil Ambani. He will own a 26-percent stake in the merged tower business, while Tirodkar will own 30 percent to 35 percent, sources have said.



"What we are saying is that we can close the deal without private equity or strategic. But if we come across a good proposal, we will look at it," said Tirodkar.



Financial terms of the deal, including the share swap ratio, have not been finalised.


Another person familiar with the matter said the deal has been fully underwritten by Standard Chartered, which is advising GTL Infrastructure, and SBI Capital Markets.



SBI Capital Markets is the investment banking unit of the country's top lender, State Bank of India.



The controlling shareholders of both the firms would also bring in equity if needed, he said.


GTL Infrastructure, which will have about 85,000 towers after completing the Reliance Comm deal and an earlier acquisition, expects those assets to generate 30 billion rupees ($646.6 million) in annual revenue, Tirodkar said.


In the last fiscal year, GTL, with a current market value of just under $1 billion, generated 3.48 billion rupees in revenue.


India's telecom tower industry is going through consolidation as carriers opt for mergers or alliances in an effort to be more cost efficient.


In January, GTL Infrastructure agreed to pay $1.8 billion for Aircel's towers. A month later, U.S.-based American Tower Corp announced plans to buy the tower unit of India's Essar Group for $432 million.


GTL Infra is not looking for further acquisitions and is focused on closing its pending deals, Tirodkar said. The Reliance Comm deal closure is expected to take four to six months.


GTL shares closed 1 percent lower at 47.20 rupees a share on Wednesday, but have gained 29 percent in June.


Reliance Comm shares have risen 37 percent in June, buoyed by the tower deal and the company's plan to find an investor for its 26-percent stake.

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