Vodafone Invites Banks to Pitch for India IPO Mandates

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Victory City (Hong Kong): Vodafone Group has set the ball rolling for its long-awaited India IPO by inviting banks, including Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, to submit pitches to manage it, people with direct knowledge of the deal said.

The listing of Vodafone’s Indian unit is expected to raise between $2 billion and $2.5 billion (Rs 13,278 crore-Rs 16,597 crore at $1 = Rs 66.39), the people said, making it the biggest IPO since state-owned Coal India Ltd’s $3.5-billion listing in 2010. Vodafone had raised the prospect of a listing in India as early as 2011.

Other banks approached by the British telecoms heavyweight included Bank of America Merrill Lynch, UBS Group as well as Indian banks ICICI Securities and Kotak Investment Banking, the people added, requesting anonymity as the process is confidential.

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The selected banks have been asked to submit pitches next week to win underwriting mandates for the stock, the people familiar with the deal said.

Vodafone is likely to pick about half a dozen banks to manage the sale in the next two weeks, these people added. Vodafone India is likely to be valued at about $20 billion, according to analysts’ estimates.

Vodafone, which in November said it had started preparations to float its Indian unit, reiterated what it said earlier.

“We have previously said that we have started preparations for a potential IPO, which includes private conversations with banks, but this is a lengthy process and no decision will be made until we are at the end of it,” Vodafone said in a statement issued in London.

Goldman Sachs, UBS and Bank of America Merrill Lynch declined to comment. Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and the Indian banks did not respond to requests for comment.

Vodafone is expected to use the IPO proceeds to buy additional mobile radio waves and expand its operations in India’s crowded and cut-throat mobile phone market.

Vodafone entered India in 2007, when it acquired a majority stake in Hutchinson Essar. It now fully controls the unit.

Its market share has increased from 15.6 per cent in 2007 to 18.4 per cent in the latest reported July-Sept 2015 quarter, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the country’s telecom regulator. (Reuters)

The company has about 188.3 million mobile subscribers and is the second-largest mobile operator behind Bharti Airtel.