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Grapevine: Vodafone may sell some assets; family feud looms over Gati share sale
Photo Credit: Reuters

Vodafone Idea is in talks to sell its 1,56,000 km optic fibre assets to Brookfield Asset Management and its data centre in Navi Mumbai to the Edelweiss Group as the telco seeks to raise over $2.5 billion (Rs 17,693 crore at current exchange rate) from asset sales ahead of a January deadline to pay statutory dues, a person in the know told The Economic Times.

A few other potential buyers are also in talks with Vodafone Idea.

The fibre network business is valued at up to $2 billion and data centre should fetch up to $100 million, the report said.

After the Supreme Court upheld the government’s definition of adjusted gross revenue (AGR) for telcos to include revenue from non-core activities, Vodafone Idea has to pay over Rs 53,000 crore ($7.5 billion).

Vodafone Idea also plans to monetise its 11.5% stake in the tower entity to be formed through the merger of Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers, valued at up to $700 million. The deadline for completion of the proposed merger was extended by 60 days to December 24 after it failed to get government approvals on time, the report said.

Meanwhile, express logistics company Gati’s planned share sale to Allcargo Logistics may face a hurdle due to a recent family feud of Gati founder Mahendra Agarwal with his wife and sons.

In a letter to the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), Neera Agarwal, Dhruv Agarwal and Manish Agarwal cited a Hyderabad court order on December 5 to attach 1.6 million shares of the founder sought to be sold to Allcargo in the open offer. The Economic Times has seen the letter.

In the letter to Sebi officials, Neera and her sons also cited a petition to the National Company Law Tribunal “for oppression and mismanagement seeking relief for inter-alia freeze on shareholding of Mahendra, his removal from directorship, contribution of undue gains made by Mahendra in Gati, criminal prosecution of Mahendra and other directors and restoration of our shares that have been wrongfully, fraudulently and illegally pledged and sold by Mahendra with various lenders.”

“We are committed to follow the due process of law. Allcargo is committed to the open offer and will continue its plans to complete the acquisition,” said a spokesperson at Allcargo.

In another development, Bharti Airtel, promoters of Dish TV and private equity firm Warburg Pincus have agreed to merge direct-to-home TV operations of Airtel and Dish after months of negotiations, two people with direct knowledge of the development told The Economic Times.

The move will create the world’s largest TV distribution company.

Likely financial details or shareholding pattern after the merger have not yet been disclosed. Warburg Pincus, which picked up a 20% stake in direct-to-home TV entity Bharti Telemedia for $350 million in December 2017, is expected to remain invested in the company after the merger, one of the persons said.

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