Idea Could Exit Tower Busi­ness for Cash Com­fort

Co also in talks with ri­val tel­cos to share infrastructure for 2G, 3G and 4G ser­vices

The Economic Times - - Companies: Pursuit Of Profit - Con­tin­ued on FI­NANCE & COM­MODI­TIES

Mum­bai: Idea Cel­lu­lar is look­ing to raise funds by sell­ing some or all of itsstakeinit­stower­busi­nes­sand has frozen hir­ing as part of a strin­gent cost-cut­ting drive to im­prove fi­nance­sand­bet­ter­takeonReliance Jio In­fo­comm, whose en­try led the No. 3 telco to post its first net loss since list­ing.

The com­pany has seen “un­prece­dented dis­rup­tion” be­cause of Jio’s free voice and data ser­vices, which forced Idea to lower its rates, man­ag­ing direc­tor Hi­man­shu Ka­pa­nia said at an earn­ings call with an­a­lysts on Mon­day. He said the sec­tor should­sta­biliseon­cethe­new­comer starts charg­ing for its ser­vices.

Ka­pa­nia in­di­cated that the worst phase was in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber, on ac­count of the “tsunami of in­com­ing calls” from Jio, and thatIdea­has­been­able­to­holdit­sown since then with its own un­lim­ited plans. There is more sta­bil­ity now and av­er­age rev­enue per user is “holdin­gon,”he­said,addingth­atthe pace of Jio’s sub­scriber ad­di­tions had slowed down in Jan­uaryFe­bru­aryfromNovem­ber-De­cem­ber.

The need to strengthen the bal­ance sheet and re­turn to prof­itabil­ity is para­mount for Idea.

“We are open to mon­etis­ing our tow­ers as well as stake in In­dus Tow­ers. We are happy to mon­e­tise fully or par­tially and have no pre­con­di­tion,”Ka­pa­ni­a­said.Ideaowns 100% of its 11,000 cap­tive tow­ers via a wholly-owned arm, Idea Cel­lu­lar Infrastructure Ser­vices Ltd. It also has an over 11% stake in In­dus Tow­ers, a JV with Air­tel and Voda­fone, through Aditya Birla Tele­com.Ac­cord­ing­tore­cent­media re­ports, Amer­i­can Tower Corp is a fron­trun­ner to ac­quire Idea’s tele­com­tow­er­sa­ta­nen­ter­pri­se­val­ueof as much as ₹ 4,500 crore.

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