MUMBAI: Brookfield Asset Management, one of the world’s top infrastructure and private equity investors, is in early talks to buy controlling shares in Reliance Jio’s telecom towers and fibre assets valued at over $15 billion (Rs 1.07 lakh crore), people directly aware of the matter said. The deal, if it happens, would be the largest private equity action, besides being one of the largest M&As in India.
Jio, the telecom arm of India’s most valued company Reliance Industries (RIL), recently said it was spinning off tower and fibre into two separate entities, as part of an anticipated de-leveraging exercise. RIL is keen on retiring and refinancing a chunk of its Rs 3 lakh crore, or $40 billion, debt mostly soaked up to finance Jio’s disruptive roll-out.
Jio operates with a network of over 2.2 lakh towers, including third party ones, and around three lakh route kilometre of optic fibre, in serving a subscriber base fast approaching 300 million.
Canada-based Brookfield, managing assets worth more than $330 billion globally, has been eyeing telecom infrastructure assets in Asia’s third largest economy for a while. Brookfield had purchased the loss-making East West Pipeline—a 1,400km pipeline connecting Kakinada in Andhra Pradesh to Bharuch in Gujarat—entity owned by Mukesh Ambani and family for $2 billion last year.