Vodafone sells mobile phone towers in India to American Tower

Vodafone sells mobile phone towers in India to American Tower

Idea Cellular and Vodafone India agreed to sell their mobile phone tower units to American Tower Corp., as carriers seek to sell assets to pare their mounting debt amid a price war that eroded their profitability. "The parties will work together to further the expansion of high speed mobile networks in India".

The sale of tower businesses by the mobile operators comes after cut-throat pricing unleashed by new entrant Reliance Jio Infocomm, backed by billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Industries, roiled the industry.

During this low demand period, the sequential quarterly voice minutes grew by 1.7% to 255 billion minutes and mobile data volume (2G+3G+4G) witnessed strong sequential growth of 73.5%.

The Idea-Vodafone merger will create the world's second-largest and India's largest telecom firm, overtaking Bharti Airtel Ltd.

"In the long term, we have a positive view on Idea and the deal could be viewed as a positive move with the 40 billion rupee-transaction value aiding Idea in cutting down its balance sheet debt", said Gaurang Shah, Head Investment Strategist at Geojit Financial Services.

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As part of the merger deal agreed in March, Vodafone India and Idea are selling the masts they own separately from their Indus Towers joint venture. It will have revenue of Rs81,600 crore and an operating profit of Rs24,400 crore. The merger, expected to be completed in 2018, is awaiting various approvals.

Earlier this year, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular announced their merger in order to become the largest telecom player in the country.

The standalone tower businesses of Vodafone and Idea comprise a combined portfolio of almost 20,000 towers.

The deal, which now awaits various regulatory approvals, is expected to be completed next year around March.

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