Telecoms tower firm American Tower Corp is expected to announce as early as today a deal to buy the mobile phone tower assets of Indian industrial group Essar for $450 million (Rs2,082 crore), according to several reports which, however, both companies refused to confirm.
While $300 million will be the equity component, ATC will assume responsibility of repaying ETIPL's $150-million debt, which the tower company has taken from some domestic banks and non-banking finance companies, the reports say.
Boston-based American Tower is spreading its wings in India and bought local tower firms Xcel Telecom and Transcend last year. The company currently owns about 2,000 tower sites in India and more than 26,000 globally, according to its website.
Essar Telecom Infrastructure is one of India's largest independent mobile mast companies, with 4,500 towers. "The deal will hopefully be signed tomorrow and then an announcement made," Financial Times quoted a person familiar with the deal as saying.
The Indian mobile tower business is seeing increasing consolidation. The Essar-American Towers deal follows the $1.8 billion (Rs8,328 crore) sale last month by mobile operator Aircel, a unit of Malaysia's Maxis Communications, of its tower unit. The buyer was GTL Infrastructure, India's largest independent tower company.
The deal is subject to approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB). The valuation per Essar tower would be in the range of around $100,000, which is identical to the GTL-Aircel's deal announced last month.