Vodafone Idea cashed out of Indus Towers as the infrastructure unit completed a long-awaited merger with Bharti Infratel, though Bloomberg reported the move did less to ease the cash-strapped operator’s burden than headline figures suggest.

Bharti-Infratel informed India’s stock exchange of the completion of the deal late yesterday (19 November), explaining Vodafone Idea had sold its 11.15 per cent holding in Indus Towers for a cash payment of INR37.6 billion ($507.2 million).

Bloomberg noted INR24 billion of the total would be deducted to clear a debt owed to Indus Towers.

The merger leaves Bharti Infratel with a 36.7 per cent stake in Indus Towers; Vodafone Group 28.1 per cent; and investment companies including KKR and Providence Equity Partners holding the remainder.

Closure of the deal draws a curtain on a process spanning more than two years: original moves to combine the infrastructure businesses made in April 2018 hit problems as shareholders argued over pricing.

Despite the sum owed to Indus Towers, the sale provides much-needed cash to Vodafone Idea as it tackles a tax demand for INR530 billion in adjusted gross revenue.

Earlier this year the operator’s board proposed schemes to raise up to INR250 billion to boost its finances. It also made progress in its fiscal Q2 (calendar Q3), with a cost-cutting programme and higher ARPU contributing to a reduction in its net loss.