New Delhi: The merger of Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers has been hit by a delay due to to delay in securing government approvals and a new committee will now explore “all possible options".

“The scheme (of merger) contemplated the closing by October 24, 2019 (long stop date), by which time a large number of processes and conditions precedent were required to be completed, which included but were not limited to all requisite Government approvals and filings," Bharti Infratel said in an exchange filing on Monday.

“The Board noted that all the requisite government approvals have not been received till date and conditions precedent and processes not completed. It therefore concluded that it is not possible to complete the scheme by the long stop date. Accordingly, the Board authorized a Committee of Directors to explore and evaluate all possible options to secure the best interests of the company and its shareholders under the current facts and circumstances," the company told the exchanges.

The companies had aimed to complete the merger by August, Bharti Infratel Chairman Akhil Gupta had told analysts at a post-earnings conference call in July.

The two tower companies had in April last year agreed to merge their businesses to create the world’s largest tower company outside China. The combined entity will own more than 163,000 towers, second only to China Tower. The merged company will be listed on the stock exchanges as Bharti Infratel is a publicly traded company. Its nearest rival in India will be ATC, which has 78,000 towers.

The merger will help Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Group, promoters of Indus Towers, to sell their stake, bring down debt and invest in their wireless operations in India, which has been facing the heat of a tariff war started with the entry of Reliance Jio in September 2016.

Bimal Dayal, chief executive officer, Indus Towers, and Hemant Ruia, chief financial officer, Indus Towers, have been appointed CEO and CFO, respectively, of the merged entity of Indus Towers and Bharti Infratel.

Dayal, who had joined Indus Towers as its chief operating officer in 2010, will now be responsible for the combined business and will take forward integration of the two companies in preparation of the merger. He has previously worked with Ericsson and Qualcomm.

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