KKR-backed Bharti Infratel’s merger with Indus Towers hits a wall
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A planned merger between telecom tower companies Bharti Infratel Ltd and Indus Towers Ltd has been delayed due to a lack of government approvals.

Bharti Infratel, the tower arm of mobile-phone operator Bharti Airtel Ltd, said in a stock-exchange filing that the merger can’t be completed by the deadline of October 24.

“All the requisite government approvals have not been received till date and conditions precedent and processes not completed,” it said.

The companies had announced the merger plan in April last year.

The plan involved Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea Ltd and private equity firm Providence Equity Partners merging their stake in Indus Towers into Bharti Infratel. Bharti Airtel also 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.

The merger was subject to approvals from regulatory authorities, including the Competition Commission of India, Securities and Exchange Board of India, the National Company Law Tribunal and Department of Telecom. The NCLT had given its approval earlier this year.

Bharti Infratel also said that its board has authorised a committee of directors to explore and evaluate all possible options to secure the best interests of the company and its shareholders “under the current facts and circumstances”.

The committee will forward its recommendations to the board on or before October 24. “Based on the recommendations received, the board shall take a suitable decision on the way forward,” it said.

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