An article in the Times of India this morning presented details about an impending deal that would put Reliance Globalcom into the hands of Bahrain's Batelco. Rumors of such a transaction have been bubbling up since the middle of March, and although Reliance has been trying to turn the division into cash for several years now with no success, this one is starting to look like the real deal.
The deal would give the Middle Eastern carrier an 80% stake in Globalcom and full management control, with Reliance having an option to sell the remaining 20% a year later. The pricetag for that 80% would be about INR60B, or around $1.1B, which would value the company as a whole at about $1.35B give or take. That's still a far cry from the sums they were looking for a couple years ago, but it's not so far from what they had hoped to raise in their canceled Singapore IPO last summer.
Apparently this is part of a suite of deals that will raise more than $1.6B for debt reduction by Reliance Communications, including the recent dark fiber sale to Reliance Industries. The whole thing is expected to be in place by the end of May or so, although it's all still via third party sources as Reliance and Batelco aren't talking publicly yet.
If it does go through, the Middle East's telecom presence in the west is going to change dramatically. Batelco is not a name too many people know outside of the fairly small community of international telecom and data folk. Globalcom will still be run out of Mumbai at least for now, but just what Batelco's plans for the assets might be is unclear.
While they've been rolling out 100G and interconnecting their latest 'Hawk' cable system lately, Reliance Communications' debt issues have slowed down Globalcom's forward progress in recent years. Batelco might be ready to infuse some capital and perhaps even use the business as a platform for further consolidation. In fact, they've already been sighted buying C&W Communications's Monaco and Islands assets just last week.
On the other hand, they might have less of an interest in some of the assets, such as the Yipes and Vanco assets.