Strong interest in Infocomm ahead of IPO

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Anil Ambani has secured $3bn-worth of commitments from private investors seeking a stake in Reliance Infocomm ahead of a stock market listing this year that is expected to value the Indian mobile operator's equity at about $5bn.

Citibank Private Equity, Carlyle, Deutsche Bank, CVC Ventures, Blackstone, and Temasek, the investment arm of the Singapore government, are among those that gave “in-principle commitments”, banking sources said.

The pre-IPO placement of shares in Infocomm represents the last foreseeable chance to take a significant minority stake of about 5-10 per cent in a national telecoms operator in one of the fastest-growing markets.

One month after the Ambani brothers, Anil and Mukesh, settled their feud over ownership of the oil-to-telecoms conglomerate, the ease with which Anil is accessing international capital to fund his side of the divided empire indicates business is returning to normal at India's most powerful company.

This will be Temasek's second attempt to acquire a stake in Infocomm. About 18 months ago it held extensive talks with the Indian mobile services company.

Senior officials from Temasek visited Infocomm's premises near Mumbai. But negotiations broke down over valuation, though Temasek continued to express interest in acquiring a minority stake.

Blackstone, one of two large global private equity funds to set up operations in India this year, is run by Akhil Gupta, a former senior financial strategist at Infocomm. Mr Gupta was brought into Infocomm by his long-time friend, Mukesh Ambani.

“These investors are buying into the governance, leadership, transparency and future potential of Infocomm,” said one banker close to Mr Ambani. “It also helps that in the telecoms space, there's nothing left to buy.”

Infocomm will be demerged from Reliance Industries as part of the settlement between the two brothers. Shareholders in Reliance Industries, which will remain in Mukesh Ambani's sphere of control, will become one-for-one owners of Infocomm.

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