Jio secures Indus tower deal; KKR to exit Infratel

23 Sep 2014

Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (RJIL) continues to add to its growing list of infrastructure partners, having signed a deal to use Indus Towers’ 113,490 telecom towers, the Economic Times reports. The newcomer has signed a master services agreement with Indus that will allow it utilise all of the infrastructure provider’s towers in 15 circles at the prevailing market rate. RJIL noted in a statement: ‘We are continued our effort to create a new age network which will provide innovative and empowering digital solutions to every Indian through our high speed 4G service. The agreement will help in avoiding duplication of infrastructure and preserving the environment, while ensuring seamless services to Jio customers through Indus’ tower infrastructure.’ Jio’s 4G licence requires the operator to launch services by May 2015, although the startup has previously said that it is aiming for a September 2014 launch.

As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, RJIL, owned by petrochemical giant Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), has signed a host of infrastructure deals in an effort to boost its coverage when it launches services and to hasten the rollout of its own network. To date the cellco has signed deals with Reliance Communications (RCOM), Bharti Infratel, Viom Networks, American Tower Coperation (ATC), Tower Vision, Ascent Telecom, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and, most recently, GTL Infrastructure.

In related news, US private equity fund Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Company (KKR) is planning to sell its 45 million shares, equivalent to a 2.38% stake, in Indian tower firm Bharti Infratel, CNBC TV18’s financial news portal Money Control writes, citing unnamed sources. The infrastructure provider is majority owned by wireless provider Bharti Airtel and operates more than 35,000 towers across eleven circles and holds a 42% stake in Indus Towers. KKR is reportedly looking to sell to take advantage of a recent uptick in Infratel’s share price, which has increased to more than INR300 (USD4.94) from INR160.45 in September 2013, although the price has dropped this week from a peak of INR321.55 on 18 September 2014 to a current price of around INR285.

India, Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio)