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Brookfield in talks to buy stake in Jio's tower, fibre assets: Report

The move will help Reliance to unlock value in the assets and reduce debt

Promit Mukherjee | Reuters  |  Mumbai 

Reliance Jio to hive off fibre, tower businesses into separate companies

Canadian private equity firm Asset Management is in preliminary talks with India's to buy a stake in its optical fibre and telecom tower assets, The Times of India newspaper reported on Friday.

Ltd said in December it planned to separate its fibre and tower business from its telecom arm Reliance Infocomm Ltd, commonly known as

"The end objective of that is to find a different set of investors who would be wanting to run these kind of assets," V Srikanth, joint chief financial officer of said in January at the company's quarterly results announcement.

The move will help Reliance to unlock value in the assets and reduce debt, he said.

While Srikanth declined to mention the number of towers the company has, or the reach and length of the fibre optic infrastructure, the company had said earlier it wanted to cover 99 per cent of India's population by the end of December 2019 with its telecom service.

The value of the assets is expected to be around $15 billion, the newspaper said, without citing its sources.

Reliance and did not reply to emails seeking comment.

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Jio, which has absorbed $40 billion of Reliance's capital expenditure (capex) in the last five years, has around $25 billion of debt and has been instrumental in turning India's most valuable energy company into a position of net debt.

Analysts at foreign broking firm CLSA have said that since a big chunk of Jio's capex has been put towards building its tower and fibre infrastructure, a potential sale of the assets could reduce the telecom firm's debt substantially.

Since its launch in September 2016, Jio, billionaire Mukesh Ambani's most ambitious venture, has upended the telecom sector in India with cut price data and free voice calls. The entry of has pushed all telecom into losses or forced consolidation.

Last year, newspapers reported that was also in talks to acquire a natural gas pipeline owned by a personal investment vehicle of

First Published: Fri, February 08 2019. 17:13 IST