PE firms Blackstone, Carlyle in talks to buy Reliance tower unit

Private equity firms Blackstone Group LP and Carlyle Group are in exclusive talks for acquiring Reliance Infratel, the mobile phone tower unit of Reliance Communications Ltd.

The deal, which is likely to be wrapped up by December, is expected to value the tower arm at more than $3.5 billion, The Times of India reported, citing an unnamed source familiar with the process.

However, it was not clear whether the private equity firms are acting together or individually and whether they are negotiating on behalf of someone else.

Reliance Communications, the flagship company of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group has been trying to sell the unit for about a year, which has around 50,000 mobile towers.

India's second-largest mobile phone operator wants to sell its 95-per cent stake in Reliance Infratel, in order to reduce its Rs32,049 crore ($7.1 billion) net debt.

Reliance is seeking $5 billion for the tower unit, but potential bidders feel that the figure is way above the actual valuation of the company.