India may see a mega merger this year, if reports out of the region are correct. Tata Group has long been seeking a way to reconfigure its capital structure and relieve the pressure of its debt, and they may have found a way to do it with the help of the rival Bharti Enterprises group.
The two companies are talking about some sort of merger of Bharti Airtel with Tata Teleservices, Tata Communications, and Tata Sky. Now, this would obviously have huge repercussions in the Indian market itself, but that part of the world is still fairly opaque to me so I’ll leave it to the experts. But the prospect of Tata Communications and its global network infrastructure, top 6 internet backbone, and wholesale/enterprise customer base changing hands is another matter.
Tata Communications has been a player global consolidation of telecommunications assets on both sides of the table over the years. They have been fixture in the submarine cable business ever since buying the Tyco Global Network and Teleglobe back in 2005. They also bought BitGravity to enter the CDN space back in 2011.
More recently, the company has been monetizing assets to help with that debt load. Tata sold its South African unit Neotel to Liquid Telecom after a similar deal to sell to Vodacom collapsed. And they sold a majority stake in the company’s data center business to ST Telemedia last year.
Should a deal happen and these assets land in the hands of Bharti Airtel, it might be that the winds of consolidation shift further. But in which direction is not that clear.
That being said, it’s still just talk right now and in all likelihood will never be anything else. Until it is, of course.
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