Page 49 - IACC Newsletter March 2013 Issue no. 9

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Ford has always been an Indophile, gobsmacked by its vivacious people and high energy. And he wants this romance to
now become even more intrinsic. "We are also talking to some Indian families and Indians outside to be our LPs. It's a
special group to be associated with. We would really love to have them as our sponsors," he quips.
What gives him the confidence is the great quality of entrepreneurial pool available. "We are not trying to find 50, but
10 -15 investments in the next 5-7 yrs. That should not be that difficult to find," he adds.
With eight investment professionals and two senior advisors, Sandeep Naik, the fund's new MD for India echoes Ford's
confidence. Over the years, the fund has "opened its aperture" and looked beyond its traditional tech focus and Naik has
spotted new avenues of growth in sectors that touches the consumer directly. From retail to healthcare, durables to
financial services, the thirst to consume more will propel the nation's growth engine and Naik wants GA to capture all its
But it is still not ready to back a home-grown internet story. "We have a wish list of 5-7 companies and we are watching
them evolve very closely." says Naik before adding, "Some large ecommerce companies will come out of India." "The
economics of the business has to work and we need evidence of that. Few will pass the test. Can they scale to
profitability?" asks Ford, as he breaks it down to the brass-tacks.
US's ATC redials TowerVision deal
American Tower Corporation (ATC) is in fresh discussions to acquire TowerVision India, a smaller independent telecom
tower management firm, jointly owned by Israel's Fore Group and private equity firm Quadrangle, said people familiar
with the matter.
The New York-listed American Tower clinched two buyouts and has been open to more since its entry into India six years
ago, but paused as the country's telecom sector struggled with controversies, court interventions and mounting debts in
the last two years. Gurgaon-based TowerVision has around 8,000 towers in an overall domestic market with about four
lakh towers. ATC has more than 10,000 towers with a tenancy ratio of 1.8.
TOI reported in December 2010 that TowerVision had started sale talks and discussed a deal with GTL Infrastructure and
American Tower, among others. GTL is said to have made an offer valuing it at $550 million. TowerVision rebuffed the
offer and discussions with ATC and buyout fund Carlyle too didn't make much headway.
The fresh sell-off talks are underway when telecom tower valuations have collapsed tracking sectoral woes, with cash
flow-based multiples — and not per-tower valuations — taking center stage in deal making. Bharti Infratel, the tower
business of India's largest mobile phone operator Bharti Airtel, recently made a sedate debut on the bourses.
Valuation details of the latest deal talk could not be ascertained immediately. Sectoral analysts said Tower-Vision was
unlikely to attract anything more than the offers it received two years ago. Low-cost telecom towers — which are said to
be priced at as little as $10,000 — on the anvil could change the sectoral dynamics further.
TowerVision CEO Sudhir Prasad said he could not offer any immediate comment, while an emailed query to ATC
remained unanswered at the time of going to press.
If ATC's talks with Tower-Vision sustain, it would be the first M&A in the tower space after a spate of consolidation
moves in 2009-10. American Tower had acquired XCel and Essar Telecom's towers in that period. GTL Infra paid $1.8
billion to buy Aircel's towers, while Quippo and Tata Teleservices merged their portfolio to create Viom Network.
Quadrangle led a group of investors committing $300 million to fund TowerVision's expansion plans in February 2010.
But the USbased PE firm was rocked by scandals and recession, triggering a stake sale move at TowerVision shortly
Building network