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business | IST

ATC, Brookfield eye stake in Bharti Infratel-Indus Towers merged entity

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As the Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers merger enters the final lap with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) approval likely this month, American Tower Company (ATC) and Brookfield have thrown their hat in the ring to acquire Bharti Infratel's stake in the merged entity.

In a bid to bring down debt and raise capital for expansion in the ever competitive telecom sector, CNBC-TV18 learns from sources that Bharti Airtel has begun talks with prospective players for selling stake in the merged entity between Bharti Infratel and Indus towers. Sources say American Tower Company and Brookfield have expressed interest in acquiring stake in the merge company.
The merger between Bharti Infratel and Indus towers is in the final stages of being completed and has been cleared by the National Company law Tribunal.  Sources say that the nod from the department of telecom is likely by September end. Once the DOT gives its approval, the merged entity will boast of 163,000 towers across 22 circles under the umbrella of Bharti Infratel, which is listed on the Indian bourses.
"Talks with investors are in the early stage. Bharti Airtel will initiate a formal sale process once the merger is completed after all necessary approvals. At this point the talks are to gauge interest of investors and both ATC & Brookfield are in the race", said a source close to the development.
Once the merger is completed Bharti Airtel will hold 37 percent stake in the merged entity. "Bharti Airtel may consider a complete or a partial exit. It hopes to get about $3.2- $3.5 billion via the stake sale which will enable it to bring down a portion of its date and use for network infrastructure expansion and working capital. With competition with Jio getting even stronger, the company will ensure it has constantly evolving infrastructure to meet customer demands", said the source.
Currently ATC has 78,000 towers in India. Brookfield acquired reliance Jio's telecom infrastructure, with 170,000 towers, in July for $3.7 billion. If either of the players emerge frontrunners, the move will create the largest telecom infrastructure company in the country.
When contacted a Bharti Airtel spokesperson declined to comment. ATC's VP of communications responded to CNBC TV18 Query; "Our policy is not to comment on business rumour or speculation"