MORGAN STANLEY PICKS UP STAKE IN TOWERVISION

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In yet another deal in the telecom towers sector, Morgan Stanley has picked up a stake in stand-alone telecom infrastructure company — TowerVision. According to sources, TowerVision has raised about $300 million, with Morgan Stanley contributing a significant chunk of this for an equity stake. TowerVision CEO Amit Ganani confirmed the development but refused to divulge the stake details picked up by Morgan Stanley or the value of the transaction.

“The investment led by Morgan Stanley will not only solidify the company’s position and long-term business prospects but will also ensure that TowerVision will continue to grow its business in line with market expansion,” Mr Ganani said. He also added that the company would use the proceeds of the deal to increase its tower portfolio to 6,000 within the next 12 months. Mobile towers constitute the non-electronic or ‘passive’ part of core cellular network infrastructure. Last year, the company had bagged a Rs 250-crore deal with Spice Communications to construct and manage 1,000-odd towers for the telco.

TowerVision India is an independent tower management company specialising in the provision of passive infrastructure to the wireless telecommunications industry.

Its promoters include RP Capital from the UK, Israel’s Fore Group and Mivtach Shamir Real Estate (also from Israel, which has a 15.5% stake in the company). It has operations in the telecom circles of Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, Orissa, Bihar and Tamil Nadu.

This deal comes within a month of Bharti’s hiving off tower arm — Bharti Infratel — offloading about 8% -10% stake for $1 billion. A clutch of international investors led by the Singapore government’s investment arm Temasek had bagged the Infratel deal. The other global investors included the Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD), Goldman Sachs, Macquarie, AIF Capital, Citigroup and India Equity Partners (IEP). Last month also witnessed mobile services provider Spice Communications selling its its tower arm to Srei Infrastructure (which owns standalone tower company Quipo) for Rs 500 crore. Additionally, earlier this month, about five bidders, including American Tower, Essar and US giant Carlyle, have been shortlisted by Tata Teleservices for buying a large stake in its hived off tower business.

TowerVision has been present in India since July ’05. It formally launched its Indian operations in January ’06 after receiving FIPB approval. The company also holds a Department of Telecom-issued infrastructure provider (IP-1) licence.

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