Brookfield, ATC Vie for $1.5 Billion India Tower Assets

  • Idea Cellular, Vodafone both selling telecom infrastructure
  • Assets could be sold to single buyer for better returns

Canadian alternative asset manager Brookfield Asset Management Inc. is vying with American Tower Corp. for the wireless towers of two operators in India, which could fetch a combined 100 billion rupees ($1.5 billion), people with knowledge of the matter said.

Idea Cellular Ltd. and Vodafone Group Plc are in talks with the two North American companies about a sale of their telecommunications infrastructure, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. Vodafone and Idea, which agreed this week to merge their Indian operations, are running separate sale processes, though the assets may be sold to a single buyer for better returns, the people said.

Indian billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla’s Idea said Monday it will combine with the European operator’s local operations to create country’s largest wireless carrier with a $23 billion enterprise value. The combined company will be able to better compete with billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., which stormed into the market last year offering free calls and data, pressuring carriers to consolidate.

The sale price for the towers could be affected by the pending merger of Idea and Vodafone’s Indian operations, which may affect their tenancy levels, according to one of the people. Representatives for Aditya Birla Group, American Tower, Brookfield and Vodafone declined to comment.

Idea aims to reach an agreement on a sale of its tower assets in the quarter ending June, according to one of the people. It is also open to keeping a minority stake in its tower unit, the person said.

Vodafone directly owns 10,926 towers that each serve an average of about 1.5 customers, according to a March investor presentation. Idea has about 8,886 sites, each used by about 1.7 tenants on average.

— With assistance by Scott Moritz

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