American Tower has received clearance from India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to acquire almost 9,000 towers from Idea Cellular for a total of INR40 billion ($584 million).
Closing the deal will see American Tower complete the second and final stage of its acquisition of 20,000 towers from Idea and Vodafone India. Last month, the government approved American Tower buying around 11,000 towers from Vodafone for a sum of INR38.5 billion.
While Vodafone India and Idea Cellular are currently in the midst of a merger, each operator signed a separate agreement with American Tower in November 2017 to sell their tower infrastructure to the US firm for a combined total of INR78.5 billion.
As part of the deal, each operator – and their merged entity – will be a “preferred partner” to American Tower, meaning that they will receive favourable terms if they continue to use the tower sites or other infrastructure operated by the US firm.
Vodafone and Idea’s merger is awaiting final approvals from India’s regulators. The deal, which is expected to close in June, will create a new mobile market leader in the country.
Current market leader Bharti Airtel is also moving to consolidate its operations, and last month signed a deal to merge its tower unit Bharti Infratel with Indus Towers. Both Vodafone and Idea hold a stake in Indus – respectively 42% and 11.15%.