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Vodafone to pare stake in Indus Towers; More deals in the works as Vi revival key

British telecom giant Vodafone announced the launch of a block deal earlier on February 23 to sell 2.4 percent stake in Indus Towers, India’s largest telecom tower firm.

“Vodafone Group Plc holds 757.8 million shares in Indus Towers Limited, equivalent to a 28.1% shareholding. 190.7 million of these shares, equivalent to a 7.1% shareholding, are currently pledged to Indus as part of the security arrangements entered into between Vodafone and Indus at the time of the merger of Indus Towers with Bharti Infratel,” the UK-based telco said in a disclosure to the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

“Vodafone announces that it has launched a placing of 63.6 million Primary Shares in Indus through an accelerated book build offering. This represents 2.4% of Indus’ outstanding share capital,” it added. Investment bank Morgan Stanley is the advisor to the deal.

The promoters of the joint venture Indus Towers, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Group, currently hold 41.73 percent and 28.12 percent stake in the company, respectively.

Two more stake sales in the works
The British telco also announced that it is in advanced discussions with “one of the largest shareholders in Indus for the purchase of up to 127.1m Indus shares from Vodafone, or 4.7% of Indus’ outstanding share capital, which represents the remaining balance of Primary Shares.”

Media reports indicate the buyer is likely to be Bharti Airtel, which is a large shareholder in the joint venture.

That’s not all. In addition to the two deals mentioned above, Vodafone disclosed that it is also in discussions with several interested parties in relation to a potential sale of the residual shareholding (21 per cent). Net –Net, in a series of three different stake sales, the British telco is eyeing a complete exit from Indus Towers.

Reviving Vodafone Idea
Vodafone Group and the Aditya Birla Group (ABG) own 44.39 percent and 27.66 percent, respectively, in beleaguered telco Vodafone Idea (now known as Vi), which desperately needs fund infusion to turnaround its operations.

Towards the end, the LSE disclosure said, “Vodafone and the Aditya Birla Group, the promoters of Vodafone Idea Limited (Vi) are committed to support Vi in its efforts to strengthen its balance sheet. The first step in this process included the conversion of US$2.1bn of AGR and spectrum interest into equity, which will make the Indian Government the largest shareholder of Vi.

“Vodafone and ABG intend to contribute towards an issue of equity shares by Vi once the terms of such a capital raise have been evaluated and decided on by the Board of Directors of Vi,” the statement said. Moneycontrol

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