Sale of telecoms towers stalled as Vodafone Essar dispute intensifies

The Indian joint venture Vodafone Essar has delayed its planned sale of 7000 towers spanning seven of India’s telecoms circles until the dispute between the two partners is resolved.

The Economic Times newspaper has reported: “The bidders have been told that this transaction has been put on hold till both partners [Vodafone and Essar] reach a solution to the ongoing corporate dispute. This deal is unlikely to see any traction soon and may be delayed by several months.”

There has been considerable interest in the towers, with Tata Quippo and GTL Infrastructure competing to procure them in a deal worth around INR3500 – 4000 crore (US$800 million). The proceeds from the sale of the towers would likely go towards Vodafone Essar’s deployment of 3G infrastructure, which is currently underway.

The majority of Vodafone’s infrastructure has been delegated to Indus Towers, formed through collaboration between Vodafone, Idea Cellular and Bharti Airtel. The three-party joint venture, which operates telecoms towers in 16 of India’s telecoms circles, has stated its 5-year ambition of constructing 5000 telecoms towers annually. The firm’s revenue for this fiscal year is projected at around US$2 billion.

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