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Reliance Communications is in discussions with the Brookfield group to sell up to 100 per cent stake in its tower subsidiary instead of the 51 per cent it had earlier agreed upon. The international tower company is also engaged in a revaluation of the deal because of the failure of the merger between Aircel and RCom.
As a result of Aircel’s departure, Reliance Infratel's tenancy ratio, which was expected to go higher than the current 1.87 with Aircel using the towers too, will not increase.
Confirming the development, Punit Garg, executive director of Reliance Communications, said, “We are in deep discussions with Brookfield and are open to the option of selling up to 100% of the business. Also without the tenancy of Aircel, Brookfield is now engaged in a revaluation of the assets. However they continue to be interested in the sale.”
In its initial plan to bankers RCom had targeted Rs 11,000 crore coming in from the sale of a 51 per cent stake in its tower subsidiary, a price which was agreed upon by Brookfield However, while RCom will receive a lesser valuation, the total cash it generates if it sells 100 per cent in the tower business could be much higher than earlier.
Garg said that RCom was expecting to garner Rs 25,000 crore from the sale of the tower business, some real estate and the fibre network. “It will be a mix of all three and some of them will happen and others will not. We are in no urgency, for instance, to sell all our real estate ” he added.
Garg pointed out that RCom had recently undertaken a fresh valuation of the Dhirubhai Ambani Knowledge Centre (DAKC) in Navi Mumbai, now an IT park valued at Rs 10,000 crore. Under the new policy of the Maharashtra government for integrated IT townships, 17 million square feet of commercial space with an FSI of 3 can be constructed in the DAKC. RCom has already constructed 1.3 million square feet, which can be leased out, and will in the next few weeks engage with leading global and domestic players for the development of the park.
Asked to respond why RCom’s attempts to monetise its real estate since 2014 had been a failure, Garg said, “It is not a failure because we have sold some properties like the one in Kolkata, flats in Navi Mumbai and properties in Hyderabad amongst others. What has happened is that we have changed our strategy from outright sale of land to developing the land with developing rights along with partners.”
Garg also pointed out that RCom would be focusing its attention on offering 4G services, although an interconnect agreement with Reliance Jio is offering the service across the country, except in Jammu and Kashmir. It has also approached the government for authorisation so that it can use the 2100 MHz band that it owns for 4G services.
Asked whether RCom would sell the optic fibre business to Reliance Jio, which was in any case using it, Garg said the company would follow a transparent policy and expected many others apart from Reliance Jio to be interested in it.
Garg also clarified that the decision to part ways was taken “mutually”. He pointed out that under the Reserve Bank of India’s guidelines on SDRs, RCom would have a “standstill” period (when it does not have to pay interest) of 18 months, which would end in December 2018.