(Updates with Citic statement, context)
NEW DELHI May 22 China's Citic Telecom
is in exclusive talks to buy into the undersea cable
assets of India's Reliance Communications Ltd, the
Financial Times reported on Thursday, citing unnamed people
familiar with the talks.
If completed, the move would create a 50-50 joint venture
valuing Reliance Communications' cable assets at $1 billion, the
newspaper said, adding Citic Telecom had beaten two other
bidders from the Middle East earlier this month.
Both Reliance Communications - India's fourth-biggest mobile
phone operator by customers and controlled by billionaire Anil
Ambani - and Citic Telecom declined comment on the report.
Hong Kong-listed Citic Telecom said it "engages in
discussion with interested parties all over the world and from
time to time regarding potential cooperation".
Reliance Communications is the most-leveraged among listed
Indian phone carriers, with net debt at the end of March
reaching $6.8 billion, more than five times its core operating
profit, Reuters calculations show.
The company has in the past unsuccessfully tried to raise
funds through the sale of stakes in its transmission tower and
undersea cable units.
After a botched Singapore flotation of the undersea cable
assets in 2012, talks to sell a stake in the business to
Bahrain's Batelco collapsed last year.
($1 = 58.7750 Indian Rupees)
(Writing by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee
and David Holmes)