Bharti Infratel Sets Dec. 24 Deadline For Merger With Indus Towers
A plane flies over an America Movil SAB telecommunications tower on top of a building in Mexico City, Mexico (Photographer: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg)

Bharti Infratel Sets Dec. 24 Deadline For Merger With Indus Towers

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Telecom infrastructure firm Bharti Infratel Ltd. said it has extended the deadline for merger of mobile tower company Indus Towers by two months to Dec. 24 while considering regulatory uncertainty looming over the deal.

The delay in deal will also result in lower payment to Vodafone Idea Ltd. for its around 11.15 percent stake, according to a regulatory filing by Bharti Infratel to stock exchanges. It was expected that Vodafone Idea will get around Rs 5,500 crore from stake sale in Indus Towers.

"The Board of Directors, in its meeting held on Oct. 24, 2019, has accepted the CoD's recommendations to extend the long stop date by 60 days i.e. till Dec. 24, 2019, on the basis of agreements on closing adjustments and other conditions precedent for closing," Bharti Infratel said.

The company said based on the net debt as on Sept. 30, 2019 and such agreed closing adjustments, it is expected that the dilution of equity stake held by the current shareholders of Bharti Infratel shall be lower on account of lesser number of shares to be issued against swap of Indus shares vis-a-vis the illustrative shareholdings disclosed in the original transaction announcement.

"These would also result in lower cash payments to Vodafone Idea Ltd. vis-a-vis the illustrative amounts disclosed earlier. Since the completion of merger is contingent upon receipt of requisite regulatory approvals and fulfilment of other conditions precedent, there can be no assurance that the merger can be completed within the extended time-frame, " the filing said.

In April 2018, Bharti Airtel Ltd., Idea Cellular and Vodafone Group had announced an agreement for the merger of Indus Towers and Bharti Infratel to create the largest mobile tower operator in the world outside China. It will have over 163,000 towers across 22 telecom service areas in India.

As per the original deal structure, Vodafone was to be issued 783.1 million new shares in the merged entity in exchange for its 42 percent stake in Indus Towers, and this could take its holding to 29.4 percent in new company depending on the options finally taken by Idea and Providence.

Similarly, Airtel's stake in the new combined tower behemoth was diluted to 37.2 percent in the combined entity from 53.5 per cent it currently holds in Bharti Infratel. The transaction at the time of deal announcement valued Indus Towers at an enterprise value of Rs 71,500 crore.

Also read: Q2 Results: Bharti Infratel Profit Beats Estimates Even As Tower Rentals Fall First Time In Six Quarters

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