Vodafone picks Kotak, UBS, ICICI for USD 2-bn share sale

MUMBAI, May 1:  Telecom major Vodafone India is close to launching an IPO with its British parent picking six investment banks, including Kotak, ICICI and UBS, for the over USD 2 billion share sale process, sources said.
“Vodafone has kicked off the much-delayed listing plan for its India arm and last week picked Kotak Investment Banking, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and UBS as joint global coordinators of the share sale,” the sources told PTI.
The company has also picked ICICI Securities, HSBC and Deutsche Bank as joint book-runners, the sources said.
When contacted, Vodafone India spokesperson directed PTI to reach out to his global counterpart Ben Pandovan in London. An e-mail sent to him did not elicit any response.
None of the i-bankers were ready to confirm the development.
The share issue is likely to hit the market only early next year as the company is yet to file the papers with markets regulator Sebi, which is a time consuming process.
The British telecom major is learnt to have decided to raise around USD 2-2.5 billion, the sources said, adding it would make the second biggest share sale in the country’s capital market history.
The biggest share sale was by state-owned Coal India which raised USD 3.5 billion in October 2010.
Last October, Vodafone Group Chief Executive Vittorio Colao had said the company had started preparatory work for the initial public offer. Vodafone India is the second largest domestic mobile phone operator with close to 200 million customers.
“I can’t give you a date but I can tell you we are positively inclined towards an IPO and have started preparatory work,” Colao had told reporters on October 14 in New Delhi.
The world’s largest telecom firm by revenue had last May asked investment bank Rothschild to compile a report about the benefits of a possible IPO, which would provide the company with cash for its India plans.
Vodafone has been planing the IPO since 2011, but held back due to regulatory and tax issues.
It is fighting a capital gains tax dispute at an international arbitration court after winning the Rs 22,000-crore tax claims dispute in the Supreme Court, but got done in by a retrospective amendment to the tax laws in 2013.
Vodafone entered the country in February 2007 after buying out Hutchinson-Essar for USD 11.2 billion. The company has invested over 12.8 billion pounds here since then, including the acquisition cost, thousands of crores of spectrum payouts and infrastructure costs, as it plans to expand 3G and 4G services from nine to 16 circles.
In 2014, Vodafone India became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the parent after minority shareholders exited following changes in laws regarding ownership. (PTI)


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