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Reliance expected to close mobile tower deal in two weeks

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India’s Reliance Communications Ltd (RCom) expects to reach a deal to sell its mobile phone masts business to a group of companies led by buyout firm TPG Capital Management LP in the next two weeks, its chief executive said on Monday.

RCom last month signed a non-binding pact to sell the business to TPG and Tillman Global Holdings LLC, a U.S. firm that invests in telecoms and energy infrastructure businesses.

Sources had told Reuters RCom expected an enterprise value of about 230 billion rupees ($3.5 billion) for the unit, which has a portfolio of about 45,000 masts.

The asset sale is part of RCom’s efforts to pare some of its 404.79 billion rupees ($5.97 billion) as of end-December in debt on its books, as India’s fourth-biggest wireless mobile phone carrier looks at deploying cash towards improving its network.

RCom, controlled by billionaire Chairman Anil Ambani, on Friday posted a 14.9 percent drop in its quarterly net profit, as cut-throat competition for customers in a crowded mobile phone market squeezed margins.

India is the world’s second-biggest market for mobile phone users but tough competition has led to low margins for voice services, and telecom providers are banking on more lucrative data services to lift earnings in the coming years.

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