Idea Cellular, India’s third-largest mobile operator, is reportedly working on a INR78.5 billion ($1.2 billion) deal to sell its independent tower business.
According to The Economic Times, Malaysia’s Axiata and American Tower Corporation (ATC) have expressed interest in the business, which comprises 11,000 towers.
Bharti Infratel is reportedly in the frame too. A joint venture company in which Idea Cellular is a partner alongside Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India, Bharti Infratel already has in excess of 35,000 towers.
Idea’s money-raising scheme comes shortly after India’s recent (and expensive) spectrum auctions, in which Idea emerged as the biggest spender, shelling out about INR303 billion.
Reliance Communications, India’s fourth-largest operator, is also reportedly keen to sell a majority stake in its tower unit, targeting a price of between INR200 billion and INR250 billion.
India’s largest operator, Airtel, raised $310 million in February through a sale of shares in Bharti Infratel, with the proceeds earmarked primarily for debt reduction. Airtel remains the majority shareholder in Bharti Infratel, however, with a 72 per cent stake.