Bharti Infratel, the mobile tower arm of India’s Bharti Airtel, is in ‘advanced talks’ regarding the possible acquisition of mobile towers from Vodafone India and Idea Cellular for a total fee of around USD1.6 billion. According to the Business Standard, which cites banking sources with knowledge of the matter, Vodafone could sell 11,000-12,000 towers while Idea could divest around 9,000.
Bharti Infratel is likely to fund the purchase with a combination of equity and debt, and will be looking to pay between USD60,000 and USD120,000 per tower, depending on its location. Together, India’s three largest cellcos by subscribers – Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular – jointly own passive infrastructure firm Indus Towers, which owns and operates approximately 111,819 towers across 15 circles, including around 7,800 in Punjab and Haryana.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in May this year Idea Cellular was thought to be working on a INR75.8 billion (USD1.19 billion) deal to offload its telecom towers, with Bharti Infratel, Axiata and American Tower Corporation (ATC) all rumoured to be interested in acquiring the surplus infrastructure.