Idea Cellular reported a fourth straight quarterly loss on Monday as intense competition in the telecom sector continued to hurt, and said it would sell its tower business to reduce debt.
"Both Vodafone India and Idea as customers, and ATC TIPL as a mobile network infrastructure provider, have agreed to treat each other as long-term preferred partners, subject to existing arrangements".
American Tower, which agreed to take control of Indian masts operator Viom in 2015 for 76 billion rupees, has been steadily expanding its presence in India - the world's second biggest wireless market with 1.2 billion mobile subscribers. In March 2017, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular announced the merger, which will create India's leading operator worth more than $23 billion with a 35 percent market share.
ATC Telecom is a network of 20,000 towers across India. Jio's pricing strategy has hurt rivals' profits as they try to match low tariffs and also pushed some carriers to consolidate operations.More news: JD.com Claims $19 Bln In Sales On Singles' Day
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Morgan Stanley was the financial adviser to Vodafone while DSP Merrill Lynch was the financial adviser to Idea Cellular.
Idea and Vodafone India have a total of about 20,000 towers, with 1.65 tenants each on average, as of 30 June 2017. The merger is expected to be completed in 2018.
Mint had reported in February that Idea Cellular was in talks to sell its tower assets in two separate deals thereby marking its complete exit from the tower business in which ATC had emerged the frontrunner to buy around 11,000 standalone towers from Idea.
Indus-the biggest tower company-is a three-way joint venture among Idea, Vodafone and Bharti Airtel, which also controls Bharti Infratel.