Vodafone to explore ways to sell stake in Indus Towers to Bharti Infratel
By Express News Service | Published: 15th November 2017 11:06 AM |
NEW DELHI: Vodafone India may sell its 42 per cent stake in mobile tower firm Indus Towers to Bharti Airtel’s mobile arm Bharti Infratel -- in full or in part.
Indus Towers is a joint venture formed by Vodafone, Bharti Airtel and Idea Cellular. Bharti Infratel and Vodafone hold 42 per cent each in Indus Towers while the rest is held by Idea.
“We will explore strategic options including the full or partial sales of our 42 per cent stake in Indus Towers, which could create further value for the group. We are also de-leveraging our balance sheet by over $ 8 billion,” Vodafone Group Chief Executive Vittorio Colao said.
According to Colao, Vodafone’s interests are aligned to the ones of Airtel. “...If anything, Airtel has been patient in waiting for this deal to happen to then start the formal discussion on what to do with the stake,” he noted.
Vodafone’s global financial officer Nick Read explained that separating Indus Towers from Vodafone India is to explore strategic options to monetise some or all of this valuable asset for the Vodafone group.
The group is hoping to reduce its debt burden in India. Vodafone India has a net debt of $8.2 billion. According to Colao, the proposed Vodafone India-Idea merger will create opportunities for Indus Towers.
“And, we will be all aligned in a good monetisation solution,” Colao told the analysts. Read clarified that any tower sale proceeds received by Vodafone or Idea Cellular prior to closing of their merger will not affect the valuation of their deal. The merger, announced in March this year, is expected to be completed by mid-2018.
Vodafone India and Idea
Cellular have already agreed to sell their respective stand-alone tower businesses in India to American Towers for an aggregate enterprise value of $1.2 billion or $60,000 per tower. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to complete in the first half of 2018.