Leading U.S. wireless tower operator American Tower Corp. (AMT - Analyst Report) is likely pursuing the acquisition of Indian wireless tower operator Viom Networks. Viom currently operates around 41,000 towers and about 1,000 more are under construction, supporting more than 95,000 tenancies.
The company is majority controlled by Tata Teleservices together with Srei group's Quippo Telecom Infrastructure and some private equity firms. Industry sources predicted that the deal size could reach up to $1.77 billion, excluding around $1.16 billion of outstanding debt.
India offers some of the cheapest mobile call tariffs in the world. Such competitive pricing has significantly affected margins and network upgrade plans of wireless service providers.
As a result, mobile operators in the country are tending towards more towers sharing and leasing to save costs. This makes India a lucrative market for wireless tower operators.American Tower already owns over 10,000 towers in India.
The wireless tower sector in India is undergoing a wave of consolidation. Smaller players are considering mergers or complete sell-out to large global tower operators since these companies lack the wherewithal to take on their larger rivals.
Last financial year (ended Mar 2013), Viom reached profitability for the first time. Many industry researchers expect Viom to increase profit in the current financial year (ending Mar 2014).
Globally, mobile subscriber growth has significantly boosted the wireless tower industry. Moreover, future financials are likely to be propelled by strong demand for wireless voice, broadband wireless data and video networks, which require more tower space. Deployments of 4G mobile networks necessitate the expansion of coverage and infrastructure by carriers.
Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ - Analyst Report) started deploying LTE from the end of 2010 and AT&T Inc. (T - Analyst Report) started it from mid-2011. Moreover, the 9-year Master Lease Agreement signed with Sprint Corp. (S - Analyst Report) will further boost top-line growth of American Tower. American Tower currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).