Reliance Communications (RCom) announced it has a shortlist of bidders interested in acquiring its majority stake in tower unit, Reliance Infratel.

RCom added that some of the shortlisted bidders expressed an interest “to acquire up to 100 per cent” of the unit, despite the company launching a formal process to sell a 51 per cent stake.

When announcing its intentions to sell the stake in May, RCom did however say it wanted to sell off the entire stake, but added it would be willing to settle for a majority divestment.

RCom said in a statement today the formal process for the sale “got a very positive response”, and it had now compiled a short list of “a small number of very credible interested parties to progress to the next round of the process”.

“The due diligence process has now commenced. Further announcements will be made, as and when appropriate”.

Reliance Infratel, which is India’s third largest tower company with 45,000 towers, has reportedly gauged the interest of a number of industry players and US private equity groups.

Among the potential suitors include domestic rival Bharti Airtel’s tower unit Bharti Infratel, American Tower Corp and US private equity firms Carlyle Group, Providence Equity Partners and Blackstone.

Reliance Infratel, which also boasts India’s largest fibre network, is reportedly valued by RCom at approximately $4 billion.

The company said the sale proceeds from the deal are expected to “substantially reduce RCom’s overall gross debt during the current financial year”.

RCom had a net debt of INR386 billion ($5.91 billion) at the end of June.