American Tower close to Tata Tele unit stake

Thursday, April 03, 2008 | | |

American Tower Company (ATC) is believed to be the frontrunner among the bidders for investing in the tower firm of Tata Teleservices. Boston-headquartered ATC is a publicly-held company owning and operating over 23,000 sites in the US, Mexico and Brazil.

According to industry sources, Tata Teleservices and ATC are in talks over the valuation of the tower entity of the telco. Sources said that Tata Teleservices has pegged the valuation of its tower company at around $2 billion.

American Tower Company did not respond to an e-mail questionnaire sent by this newspaper early this week, on whether it was in the final stages of negotiations with Tata Teleservices for investing in its hived-off tower unit, or if it agreed with the estimated valuation of $2 billion for the same.

Recently, Tata Teleservices managing director Anil Sardana had said that the task of divesting stake in its tower company would be concluded by the end of May. Tata Tele wants to divest anything between 26% and 49%. According to the company, around 15 strategic investors were shortlisted for picking up a stake in the hived-off tower entity of Tata Tele. At present, Tata Teleservices Ltd (TTSL) has 10,000 towers, and Tata Teleservices Maharashtra Ltd (TTML) 3,500 towers.

Meanwhile, industry buzz is that Indus Towers, the joint venture tower company between Bharti, Vodafone and Idea, may also look at divesting some of its stake to strategic investors. Bharti Airtel, Vodafone-Essar and Idea merged their tower assets in 16 circles to form an independent tower company Indus Towers. Bharti and Vodafone have 42% stake each in the company while Idea Cellular holds 16% in it.