New Delhi: In a largest foreign direct investment in telecom sector this fiscal, US-based American Tower Corp has agreed to buy a majority stake in telecom tower firm Viom Networks for Rs 7,635 crore in an all-cash deal. American Tower Corporation (ATC) will buy 51 per cent stake in Viom, which owns and operates about 42,200 towers and has another 1,000 mobile phone masts under construction, from Tata Teleservices Ltd and SREI Infrastructure Finance.
“Under the agreement, American Tower may acquire or be required to acquire all or a portion of the remaining 49 per cent ownership stake in Viom,” it said in a statement. Also, as a pre-condition for the deal, ATC’s existing 14,000 telecom mobile masts will be merged with Viom. This will result “in certain ownership adjustments,” the statement said without elaborating.
Tata Teleservices Ltd owns 54 per cent of Viom, with Kolkata-based SREI Group of Kanoria family holding about 18 per cent with management control. Singapore state investor GIC, Macquarie SBI Infrastructure Fund, Oman Investment Fund and India’s IDFC Private Equity are other investors in the company.
ATC will buy all of SREI’s 18.50 per cent stake and will also acquire stake from other shareholders. “Tata Teleservices stake will come down to about 34 per cent from current 54 per cent now and further it would get reduced to 26 per cent after ATC merges its Indian business with Viom,” said Sunil Kanoria Vice-Chairman of Srei Infrastructure Finance.
IDFC’s private equity division will bring down its holding to 3.2 per cent, while private equity fund SBI-Macquarie will retain its 11 per cent stake. Viom was formed in 2009 as result of merger of mobile towers of Tata Teleservices and Quippo Telecom — a unit under Srei Group