Canada’s BCI and Others Invest $3.4 Billion in Indian Telecom Tower Venture

The Canadian institutional investor acquired a portfolio of 175,000 cell towers in the world’s second largest telecommunications market. 

British Columbia Investment Management Corp. (BCI) and other investors have acquired an Indian telecom tower company in a $3.4 billion transaction. 

The Canadian institutional investor, along with Toronto-based asset manager Brookfield Infrastructure Partners and its other partners, took a 100% stake in a portfolio of 175,000 cell towers in the world’s second largest telecommunications market, BCI said Monday evening. 

BCI and its partners bought the tower company from Indian investment holding company Reliance Industrial Investments and its subsidiary Holdings Limited. 

About 135,000 towers recently constructed across India, as well as another 40,000 that are yet to be built, form the basis of the telecommunications network for Reliance Jio Infocomm, the subsidiary of digital services company Jio Platforms, which are both owned by India’s richest billionaire, Mukesh Ambani. Jio signed a 30-year lease to provide the tower company with “a secure, long-term source of revenue.”  

“This investment is well aligned with our long-term strategy of investing in high quality companies and assets that fulfill essential needs of the communities in which they operate,” Lincoln Webb, executive vice president and global head of BCI’s infrastructure and renewable resources program, said in a statement. “Data services are increasingly critical to societies and economies in today’s world.” 

Under Ambani’s ambitions to make Jio Platforms India’s first internet giant, the digital services company has attracted a slew of international investors. The wireless telecom has roughly 370 million subscribers. India has about 1.1 billion total mobile subscribers.

In April, Facebook said it would invest $5.7 billion into Jio Platforms, making the social media company its largest minority shareholder. Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund invested $1.5 billion in the company.

One of Canada’s largest institutional investors, BCI allocates about 11% of its portfolio to its infrastructure and renewable resources program. About C$18.3 billion of BCI’s C$171.3 billion portfolio (or US$14.1 billion of the US$131.5 billion portfolio) was invested in the asset class in BCI’s most recent fiscal year. In December, the allocator committed C$1.3 billion to infrastructure assets.

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