Vodafone Group trims stake in Indus Towers, Airtel stake nears 50%
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Vodafone Group trims stake in Indus Towers, Airtel stake nears 50%

By Reuters

  • 19 Jun 2024
Vodafone Group trims stake in Indus Towers, Airtel stake nears 50%
Other | Credit: Reuters

Vodafone Group has sold a bigger-than-planned 18% stake in India's Indus Towers for $1.82 billion on Wednesday, with local telecom operator Bharti Airtel picking up shares to increase its stake to nearly 50%.

UK's Vodafone, which owns a 21.5% stake in mobile-tower operator Indus, had initially planned to sell a 10% stake but strong investor demand promoted it to nearly double the sale size, a banking source aware of the matter said, requesting anonymity as they are not allowed to speak to the media.

Vodafone said it sold 484.7 million Indus shares at 310-341 rupees per share, raising 153 billion rupees, or 1.7 billion euros, in gross proceeds that it will use to repay debt.

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It has bank borrowings of 1.8 billion euros against its Indian assets, which also includes a stake in Vodafone Idea, the country's debt-saddled No.3 telecom operator by subscribers.

Indus's stock slid as much as 9.4%, before paring losses to trade down 4.3% at 329.60 rupees around midday in Mumbai, with more than 750 million shares traded, already their busiest-ever session.

Airtel, India's No.2 telecom operator, said it bought a roughly 1% stake in Indus, raising its stake to around 49%. It did not disclose the price.

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Vodafone Group now has a 3.1% 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 via so-called block deals, where investors sell shares in the market. They have risen in popularity in India with the stock market at record-high levels.

Vodafone Idea shares were mostly flat, while Bharti Airtel's shares were down 1%.

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