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Bharti Infratel–Indus Towers merger gets CCI approval

The Competition Commission of India has approved the merger of Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers, two large telecom infrastructure providers, the Economic Times reports. After combing, the resultant entity will be one of the largest owners of telecom towers in the world, with around 1.63 lakh towers. The companies together may be valued at $14.6 billion, the ET report says. Bharti Infratel is owned by Bharti Airtel, while Indus is independently managed.

Indus already has Airtel as an owner, aside from Vodafone and Idea, who are themselves merging. American equity firm Providence also has a 4.85% stake in Indus. The post-merger entity will be named Indus Towers.

What next

The merger will now need approvals from NCLT, SEBI, and the Department of Telecommunications.

In the merged entity, Idea Group has the option to either sell its 11.15% shareholding in Indus Towers for nearly Rs 65 billion (just under $1bn) or get new shares in the combined company based on the merger ratio.

Vodafone, which is another stakeholder in Indus Towers, will be issued with 783.1 million new shares in the combined company, in exchange for its 42% shareholding in Indus Towers. The transaction values Vodafone’s shareholding at Rs 284 billion ($4.3bn).

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Providence can choose to either receive cash or new shares in exchange for 3.35% stake. The remainder from the total 4.85% shareholding, will be exchanged for shares. Bharti Airtel’s shareholding will be diluted from 53.5% in Bharti Infratel today to 37.2% in the combined company.

Bharti Airtel and Vodafone will jointly control the combined company. The acquisition is expected to be completed by March 31, 2019.

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

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