Bharti Infratel-Indus Towers merger gets DoT’s nod, meeting on Feb 24 to chart future course of action

The merger will create a pan-India tower company with over 163,000 towers. (File Photo)

Bharti Infratel on Saturday said its board will meet on February 24 to chart out the future course of action following the telecom department’s approval for merger with Indus Towers.

The combination of Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers will create a pan-India tower company with over 163,000 towers, operating across all 22 telecom service areas. The combined entity will be the largest tower company in the world outside China.

“…FDI approval for merger of Indus Towers with Bharti Infratel has been received late evening yesterday,” Bharti Infratel said in a regulatory filing.

It added that the board of directors of the company will meet on February 24, 2020 to “take stock and decide the future course of action”.

Bharti Infratel and Vodafone hold 42 per cent stake each in Indus. Vodafone Idea holds 11.15 per cent stake in the mobile tower firm.
As per the plans, the combined company, which would fully own the respective businesses of Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers, would change its name to Indus Towers Ltd and will continue to be listed on Indian stock exchanges.

The timely completion of the tower deal was critical for the companies, since it would allow Bharti and Vodafone Idea in offloading stake and raising funds.
The development comes at a time when Vodafone Idea is confronted with total AGR dues of over Rs 53,000 crore. Of this, it has paid only Rs 3,500 crore in two tranches earlier this week.

In all, as many as 15 entities owe the government Rs 1.47 lakh crore — Rs 92,642 crore in unpaid licence fee and another Rs 55,054 crore in outstanding spectrum usage charges.

These dues arose after the Supreme Court, in October last year, upheld the government’s position on including revenue from non-core businesses in calculating the annual Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) of telecom companies, a share of which is paid as licence and spectrum fee to the exchequer.

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