American Tower (ATC) is acquiring the tower units of both Vodafone India and Idea Cellular in separate agreements.
The infrastructure investment firm is paying a combined INR78.5 billion ($1.2 billion) for the 20,000 tower sites owned by the two towercos. The deals both grant the respective operators “preferred partner” status, which will allow them to continue using the sites – as well as ATC’s other assets – while enjoying preferential terms.
Vodafone India and Idea are in the process of completing a merger, which is expected to be completed next year once various approvals have been granted by the Indian authorities. Upon announcing their merger in March this year, both operators also stated that they would be looking to sell their standalone tower units so as to strengthen the combined entity, which will surpass Bharti Airtel to become the Indian market leader.
Speculation last month had pegged American Tower as the most likely buyer for the sites. The company has a global portfolio of 149,000 sites, including a strong presence in India. It is acquiring Vodafone’s towers for INR38.5 billion ($592 million) and Idea’s for INR40 billion ($615 million), with the transaction due to go ahead in Q1 2018 once it receives all necessary approvals from regulators.
American Tower CEO Jim Taiclet said: “We expect the addition of these two high quality portfolios to be highly complementary to our existing assets and to contribute to long-term leasing growth as India’s leading mobile operators accelerate their 4G network deployments.”