India’s Reliance Communications agreed a non-binding pact to sell a 51 per cent stake in its tower assets to Canada’s Brookfield Infrastructure Group for a consideration that includes an upfront cash payment of INR110 billion ($1.7 billion).
RCom said it will use the funds “solely to reduce its debts”.
The operator signed a non-binding term sheet with Brookfield which will involve the transfer of assets from Reliance Infratel into a separate special purpose vehicle, owned by Brookfield.
The operator receives an upfront cash payment of $1.7 billion. In addition, “RCom will also enjoy 49 per cent future economic upside from the towers business, based on certain conditions”, said the statement.
RCom, the country’s number four operator, has $6.3 billion net debt, more than five times its operating profit, Reuters said. Anil Ambani, the billionaire who controls the company, said it wants to cut its debt by more than three-quarters within a year.
RCom “will continue as an anchor tenant on the tower assets” under a long-term agreement.
Both parties “expect considerable growth in tenancies based on increasing 4G offerings by all operators, and the fast accelerating trends in data consumption, which are expected to contribute to significant growth in revenues and profitability for the towers business in the future,” the statement added.
They also said they see opportunities for consolidation in the towers industry in India that will “further enhance growth and value creation in the future.”
The deal is subject to customary approvals and certain other terms and conditions.
RCom has tried to sell its tower assets before. Last year, it signed a non-binding pact with a group led by TPG Capital Management but it did not go through.
Earlier this month RCom’s head resigned, citing personal reasons for his departure. He had joined RCom in February 2014 and in the last year orchestrated merger deals with two smaller rivals (Sistema Shyam Teleservices and Aircel) that will see major changes in RCom’s structure.