Vodafone sells 18 per cent stake in India’s Indus Towers

Vodafone, which previously owned 21.5 per cent of Indus, had initially planned to sell a 10 per cent stake but nearly doubled the sale size due to strong investor demand.

Vodafone Group now holds a 3.1 per cent stake in Indus. (Photo: Getty Images)

By:
Vivek Mishra

Vodafone Group has sold an 18 per cent stake in India’s Indus Towers, raising £1.43 billion to reduce its debt, the British telecom group announced on Wednesday.

Bharti Airtel, India’s second-largest telecom company, said it acquired about 1 per cent of Indus shares in the transaction, increasing its stake in the mobile tower operator to around 49 per cent.

Vodafone, which previously owned 21.5 per cent of Indus, had initially planned to sell a 10 per cent stake but nearly doubled the sale size due to strong investor demand, a banking source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Vodafone sold 484.7 million Indus shares at £2.93-£3.22 per share, raising £1.45 billion, or 1.22 billion euros, in gross proceeds to repay debt.

The group stated it had bank borrowings of £17.01 billion against its Indian assets, which also include a stake in Vodafone Idea, the country’s third-largest telecom operator by subscribers.

Besides Airtel, SBI Mutual Fund and Kotak Securities were also among the buyers of Indus’ shares, according to exchange data.

Vodafone Group now holds a 3.1 per cent stake in Indus. Vodafone Idea also has a stake in Indus.

Private equity giant KKR and Canadian fund CPPIB sold their entire stakes in February.

Vodafone Group sold its stake through block deals, where investors sell shares in the market. These have become more popular in India with the stock market trading at record-high levels.

(With inputs from Reuters)