Pedestrians walk past a Reliance Communications Ltd. Mobile Store in Mumbai Photograph: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

Anil Ambani Seeks to Sell Control of Indebted Telecom Unit

(Bloomberg) -- Reliance Communications Ltd., the telecommunications company that’s offloading most of its assets to a rival, is in talks to sell a controlling stake in what will remain after it exits India’s consumer wireless business.

The company helmed by billionaire Anil Ambani is negotiating with two investors who are conducting due diligence, Bill Barney, chief executive officer of the company and its undersea cable unit Global Cloud Xchange Ltd., said Wednesday.

The undersea telecommunications cable system, data centers and business-to-business connectivity services will remain after the sale of airwaves, towers, underground fiber and transmission nodes to Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., the wireless carrier controlled by Anil’s elder brother Mukesh Ambani. Once India’s No. 2 mobile-phone service, Rcom took on debt and lost market share amid a withering price war that eventually led to its exit and lawsuits from vendors, including a local unit of Ericsson AB, saying they hadn’t been paid.

The outcome of talks with the investors would be known in a “few months,” Barney told reporters in Mumbai on Wednesday. He declined to provide a price or identify the investors beyond saying one was a consortium with four firms.

Anil Ambani’s Reliance conglomerate has been disposing other assets as well. Reliance Infrastructure Ltd. last month completed the sale of its Mumbai electric-power distribution assets, cutting total debt by about 66 percent.

RCom shares fell 2.3 percent to 12.6 rupees as of 11:22 a.m. in Mumbai, paring a 12 percent gain from Wednesday, and leaving its year-to-date decline at 65 percent.

Previous negotiations for a sale of Rcom’s undersea cable, data center and enterprise businesses didn’t lead to a transaction.

There were three bidders for the assets, Nomura Holdings Inc. said in June, citing management’s comments on an investor call. The company was also said to be in talks to sell GCX to China’s Citic Telecom International Holdings Ltd. for $500 million in 2014, though the deal eventually stalled after Citic got a new chief executive.

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