Reliance Jio to acquire RCom's telecom towers, wireless assets

Mukesh Ambani India's richest man is raising the stakes in a ferocious price war gripping the country's mobile phone market

Mumbai: Reliance Communications (Rcom) on Thursday signed binding definitive agreements with Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd for sale of valuable wireless spectrum, towers, fiber and media convergence node (MCN) assets.

The consideration comprises primarily of cash payment and includes transfer of deferred spectrum installments payable to the Department of Telecommunication (DoT). While Bharti Airtel Ltd-the nation's biggest mobile-phone operator-has acquired the Indian unit of Norwegian firm Telenor and the consumer telecom business of Tata Teleservices Ltd, Idea Cellular Ltd and the local arm of Vodafone Group Plc have chose to merge. As part of the split of the empire between the two brothers in 2005, the telecom business had gone to the younger brother. RCom Chairman Anil Ambani said Tuesday that his company aimed to reduce its liabilities from 450 billion rupees ($7.03 billion) to 60 billion rupees by March.

The transaction will close in a phased manner in the first quarter of calendar year 2018 and the proceeds will be used entirely for debt reduction, RCom said.

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An asset monetisation process for Reliance Communications assets was mandated by the lenders of RCom, who appointed SBI Capital Markets Limited to run the process. "The company will utilise the proceeds of the monetisation of this cash deal exclusively for pre-payment of debt to its lenders", RCom said in a statement. Anil had said on Tuesday that after the completion of the revival process, the "new RCom" would have debt of just Rs 6,000 crore, down from Rs 45,000 crore in October.

A few months ago, Anil Ambani had blamed Reliance Jio for the troubles in India's telecom sector. The collapse of the deal - which would have helped it cut its debt by Rs 14,000 crore - had resulted in another highly lucrative tower deal, with Canadian firm Brookfield that was getting in another Rs 11,000 crore, also breaking down.

The new RCom will consist of enterprise, GCX, the data center business and the 4G sharing business. Earlier in October, RCom's merger talks with Aircel collapsed.

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