India's RCom to sell group firm to Bahrain Tele

Indian mobile phone firm Reliance Communications (RCom) owned by Anil Ambani will sell a majority stake in a telecom subsidiary to a Bahrain Telecommunications-led group for $1.1 billion, a report said Monday.

The funds raised from the sale of the stake in Reliance Globalcom will help RCom reduce its hefty debt estimated at $6.7 billion, the Times of India said, quoting a source the newspaper said was close to the deal.

"RCom will sell an 80 percent stake in its subsidiary, Reliance Globalcom, to a consortium led by Bahrain Telecommunications Company (Batelco)" for around 60 billion rupees ($1.1 billion), the Times of India said.

Reliance Globalcom provides voice, Internet and other communication services and operates a US fibre-optic network and a management services business.

The Ambani group may also sell off its direct-to-home broadcast business to Sun Group based in south India for around $360 million, the newspaper added.

RCom shares rose as much as 6.74 percent to 67.25 rupees on the back of the report.

The Batelco-led consortium would include private equity firms, the newspaper added.

RCom would retain a 20 percent stake in Reliance Globalcom initially but has the option to sell that as well, the report said, adding the deal could be closed by May-end.

An RCom spokesman told AFP the company would not comment on "speculative news". There was no immediate comment available from Batelco.

Last week RCom signed a $220 million deal with Reliance Industries' group telecom firm, led by Anil's elder brother Mukesh, to share their fibre-optic communications networks.

The agreement between the billionaire Ambani brothers, who had battled for the spoils of their late father's business empire, was the first tangible sign of a corporate reconciliation.