Indian operator Reliance Communications (RCom) has had a number of firms express interest in acquiring the tower unit that it is attempting to divest.
Along with 3 US private equity groups - Blackstone, Carlyle Group, and Providence Equity Partners - the specialist tower firms American Tower Corp and Bharti Infratel have registered an interest in the available 51% stake in Reliance Infratel, which is India’s number three tower firm.
Reliance Infratel owns around 45,000 towers but also claims India’s largest fibre network, and has a value of around $4 billion. The stake was first made available by RCom in May, and several bids were received for it in June – with American Tower and Carlyle among the interested parties – but no deal was made.
Airtel’s entry into the race is something of a surprise since it did not register any interest in June, and actually divested a significant portion of its own tower unit back in February in order to stump up $300 million as part of a debt reduction strategy.
However, an Airtel spokesman confirmed: “We keep evaluating options on an ongoing basis and are open to opportunities provided there is a strategic fit”.