Bimal Dayal to lead merged entity of Indus Towers, Bharti Infratel

NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Group Plc on Tuesday announced that Bimal Dayal, who is currently chief executive officer, Indus Towers and Hemant Ruia, currently chief financial officer, Indus Towers, will be appointed as CEO and CFO, respectively, of the merged entity of Indus Towers and Bharti Infratel.

Dayal, who had joined Indus Towers as its chief operating officer in 2010, will now be responsible for the combined business and will take forward integration of the two companies in preparation of the merger. He has previously worked with Ericsson and Qualcomm.

Prior to his role at Indus, Ruia previously worked as chief financial officer at Reliance Retail.

The companies did not divulge details of other leadership roles. The existing leadership teams of both Indus Towers and Bharti Infratel will continue to manage their respective businesses till the merger becomes effective, Bharti Airtel said in a statement.

The two tower companies had in April last year agreed to merge their businesses to create the world’s largest tower company outside China. The combined entity will own more than 163,000 towers, second only to China Tower. The merged company will be listed on the stock exchanges as Bharti Infratel is a publicly traded company. Its nearest rival in India will be ATC which has 78,000 towers.

The merger is at an advanced stage of completion and is expected to be closed by June. It will help Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Group to sell their stake, bring down debt and invest in their wireless operations in India, which has been facing the heat of a tariff war started with the entry of Reliance Jio in September 2016.

Bharti Infratel and Vodafone Group own 42% each in Indus Towers, while Vodafone Idea, the merged entity of Idea Cellular and Vodafone India, holds 11.15%. The remaining 4.85% is held by private equity firm Providence.

Once the merger is completed, Airtel, which currently owns 53.5% stake in Bharti Infratel, will hold between 33.8% and 37.2% in the merged entity, while Vodafone Group will own between 26.7% and 29.4%. Airtel and Vodafone Group will have equal rights in the merged entity.

As part of the proposed merger, Vodafone Idea has the option to either sell its 11.15% stake in Indus Towers or get a 7.1% stake in the combined company if Providence also opts to receive new shares in exchange for its shareholding in Indus Towers.

Providence has the option of choosing cash or shares for 3.35% of its 4.85% shareholding in Indus Towers, with the balance exchanged for shares.