Tower Talk: a guide to the latest major cell site developments

10 Jan 2017

Indian mobile provider Reliance Communications (RCOM) has signed a binding agreement with Canada’s Brookfield Infrastructure Partners under which the latter will take a 51% stake in RCOM’s infrastructure arm, Reliance Infratel, for a consideration of INR110 billion (USD1.6 billion). As part of the agreement, the company’s tower assets will be transferred to Towercom Infrastructure, a new special purpose vehicle incorporated by RCOM in November 2016, which will be wholly owned and managed by Brookfield. RCOM and Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio) will stay on as long term tenants on the towers. However, a group of minority stakeholders in Infratel – owning a combined total of around 4% in the company – have invoked a shareholder agreement which requires RCOM to buy back their shares if a majority stake sale takes place, Live Mint writes, citing two people close to the development. ‘The minority shareholders are still in talks with RCOM to resolve the matter amicably but have also engaged a Mumbai-based law firm to explore legal options,’ one of the anonymous sources was quoted as saying.

Kuwaiti-backed mobile provider Zain Saudi is involved in talks to sell its tower portfolio to a consortium comprising investment firm AWCA Holding and TASC Towers, the cellco confirmed in a filing to the bourse in late December. The operator noted that there was no binding agreement yet and no certainty that discussions would lead to a sale. Previously, in early November 2016 a senior Zain official stated that the company expects to sell the infrastructure for more than USD500 million in the first half of 2017.

Banglalink, Bangladesh’s second largest mobile provider by subscribers, has sought permission from sector watchdog the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) to establish a subsidiary for its network infrastructure, including its roughly 8,000 mobile towers. The Daily Star writes that the new unit would be an independent infrastructure provider, with all of the cellco’s passive infrastructure to be transferred to the company, along with any master agreements signed with Banglalink.

US-based global tower provider American Tower Corporation (ATC) and Brazilian cellco TIM Participacoes (TIM Brasil) have completed the fifth tranche of their longstanding tower sale agreement. The most recent transaction saw TIM Brasil transfer the last 66 towers covered by the deal to ATC for BRL27 million (USD8.37 million). Under the November 2014 pact, ATC agreed to purchase a total of 6,481 towers from the cellco via a series of transactions. To date, TIM Brasil has offloaded 5,819 of the sites (including the 66 above) for approximately BRL2.635 billion.

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