Reliance Jio tower assets sold to Canada's Brookfield for Rs 25,000 crore

Reliance Industrial Investments and Holdings (RIIHL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries (RIL), has entered into binding agreements with Canada’s Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP and its institutional partners for an investment of Rs 25,215 crore in the telecom tower assets of the RIL. 

In a notification to the stock exchanges, RIL noted that Brookfield and its partners would invest Rs 25,215 crore in the units to be issued by the Tower Infrastructure Trust. At the closing of the transaction, the Trust will own 100 per cent of the issued and paid up equity share capital of Reliance Jio lnfratel. Brookfield will buy 100 per cent units issued by the Trust, which, in turn, owns 100 per cent equity of Reliance Jio Infratel, the operating company for Jio’s tower assets.

Reliance Jio lnfratel has a portfolio of about 130,000 telecom towers that form the backbone of Reliance Jio Infocomm’s network. There are plans to build additional towers and the total number of towers is expected to reach approximately 175,000 towers. Jio is an anchor tenant of the tower portfolio under a 30-year Master Services Agreement. 

“We are pleased to enter into this long and strategic relationship with Brookfield, which is one of the largest and most respected managers of infrastructure assets globally. We are confident of Brookfield’s abilities to manage this large portfolio of high-quality infrastructure assets and further enhancing value creation opportunities. This transaction demonstrates the belief of global investors in the potential of India’s digital opportunity”, said Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of RIL. 

Closing of the transaction is subject to certain regulatory approvals, which are expected shortly. In July, RIL had said RIIHL had signed an agreement with BIF IV Jarvis India Pte, a unit of Brookfield Asset Management, for an investment by Brookfield (along with co-investors) for Rs 25,215 crore in units issued by the Tower Infrastructure Trust.

RIL Chief Financial Officer V Srikanth had then said, “Brookfield is bringing in Rs 25,215 crore and will own 100 per cent of the tower company.” Proceeds from the investment will be used to repay existing financial liabilities of the tower business. 

The rest will be used to acquire RIL’s 49 per cent stake in Reliance Jio lnfratel. The trust now owns 51 per cent of Reliance Jio lnfratel, where Reliance Industries holds the remaining 49 per cent. Jio and the tower firm has a tower use agreement according to market prices. Jio would make payments to Reliance Jio lnfratel for using the tower infrastructure. 

Meanwhile, telecom analysts expect that the tariff hike introduced in December will not reap concrete benefits for telecom companies, especially Jio, till the first quarter of FY20-21.

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