Bharti Airtel is open to partnering with newly merged Vodafone Idea to establish a separate entity to own and operate their combined fibre assets, The Economic Times (ET) reported.
Such an arrangement between the two largest mobile players in India would be similar to the joint tower company Indus Tower, which was set up by Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular and owns about 124,000 towers across the country. The companies would have the option to sell off part of the new entity to raise funds.
An Airtel representative told ET: “We will be delighted to share and create one company. We have already built a lot of fibre with Vodafone Idea and over the past two years a lot of sharing has happened between the two companies.”
Both Airtel and Vodafone Idea recorded sharp drops in revenue and profitability in the three months to 30 September, with the entire industry hit by a price war spurred by the entry of Reliance Jio in September 2016. The two are looking to raise funds by selling assets to pay down huge debts.
Vodafone Idea recently spun off its fibre assets into a separate unit, with plans to sell it.
In April Airtel agreed to combine its tower business Bharti Infratel with Indus Towers, a deal expected to close by 31 March 2019. The company also is in the process of selling off a stake in its African unit to raise as much as $1.5 billion.Subscribe to our daily newsletter