American Tower says to buy India's Xcel Telecom

NEW DELHI, March 17 Tue Mar 17, 2009 6:32am EDT

NEW DELHI, March 17 (Reuters) - American Tower Corp (AMT.N) has agreed to acquire Indian wireless telecoms tower firm Xcel Telecom, the U.S.-based firm said on Tuesday, without disclosing financial details.

The Economic Times newspaper had reported on Monday a deal would be worth more than 7 billion rupees ($136 million), citing a person familiar with the transaction. [ID:nBOM469531]

The acquisition of Xcel, which owns about 1,700 towers, will close in the second quarter, American Tower said in a statement, and help expand its operation in the world's fastest-growing mobile market.

The combined operations would have about 2,000 towers in 15 of India's 22 telecoms circles, it said.

"This deal will strengthen our base in India and give us access to a new set of clients and geographies where Xcel has established connections," Amit Sharma, ATC's president for Asia, said in the statement.

Towers carry and power the electronic equipment needed to receive and transmit radio signals for mobile services.

Independent tower companies like American Tower rent or lease out their towers to mobile operators. Leasing towers is also attractive for the raft of new telecoms licencees, who can roll-out their networks faster and at a lower cost.

Xcel is owned by an affiliate of Texas-based private investment fund Q Investments. American Tower operates more than 23,000 cell sites in the United States, Mexico and Brazil. ($1=51.4 rupees) (Reporting by C.J. Kuncheria; Editing by Ranjit Gangadharan)

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