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American Tower Eyeing Bid for India's Viom Networks

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USA based American Tower is said to be working on a bid to buy the Indian tower network operator, Viom Networks, even as its owners plan a stock market listing.

Viom Networks operates around 42,000 towers and more than 95,000 tenancies. It was formed in January 2009 from the merger of the tower networks owned by Wireless Tata Telecom Infrastructure (WTTI) and Srei group's Quippo Telecom Infrastructure (QTIL).

Plans for an IPO on the stock market were cancelled in 2011 following a shareholder dispute, but are understood to be back on again. A listing has been talked about in London or Singapore, but is thought to be at least six months away.

The loss marking company has finally turned in a profit after a major cost-cutting programme aimed at slashing the cost of setting up new towers.

However, American Tower may put in a bid to buy the company itself instead.

American Tower has already made two previous purchases in the country, which gives it about 10,000 towers, and could look to consolidate the assets of all three tower networks to reduce its operating costs.

Viom would be a significant upscaling for the buyer though.

The company is thought o put a valuation on Viom at around Rs 11,000 crore (USD1.77 billion), excluding debt, which is estimated at around Rs 7,200 crore. That figure is significantly below what Viom's shareholders are understood to value the company at though.

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