GTL seals €1.3b tower deal

Listed Indian tower firm GTL Infrastructure will purchase Aircel’s tower assets for 84 billion rupees (€1.3b), making it the largest all-cash transaction sealed in India.
“This transaction will make GTL Infrastructure the world’s largest independent tower company with a portfolio of more than 32,500 towers across all 23 telecom circles,” GTL said. 
Aircel’s 17,500 existing towers comprise 21,000 tenancies, it said. In addition to these, Aircel would add another 20,000 towers over the next three years.
“On completion of this rollout, GTL Infrastructure is expected to have a portfolio of more than 50,000 towers across India.” 
GTL said it expects to issue 34 billion rupees in new equity to fund the deal.  Bank debt will fund the remainder of the proceeds.
“This is the largest all-cash asset purchase transaction in Indian corporate history,” said GTL Infrastructure chairman Manoj Tirodkar.
For its part, Aircel pulled out of the tower game in order to raise funds for network expansion.
“We are currently in 18 circles and it [the proceeds] will help us [expand] to all the 23 circles, which we want to [achieve]…by mid-June,” Aircel COO Gurdeep Singh is quoted as saying.
Aircel, India’s fifth largest cellco, is aiming to increase its mobile subscriptions from 31 million to 100 million by end-2012.  That entails doubling its base station count to 80,000 by 2012.
Meanwhile, India’s stock exchange authority SEBI has approved Reliance Infratel’s draft red herring prospectus for its planned IPO.
Reliance Infratel owns 50,000 towers and its fiber optic infrastructure spans 25,000 towns and 60,000 villages. 
The firm, which is planning to list 10% of its equity, could be worth up to 500 billion rupee, according to reports.