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Vodafone sells 4.2% stake in Airtel following new norms

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Vodafone Group has has sold 4.2% stake in India’s largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel for $200 million, reports the Economic Times in order to comply with  regulatory norms. Vodafone in 2005 had bought 10% stake in Bharti Airtel and had sold a part of it in 2007 following its acquisition of Hutchinson-Essar which it renamed as Vodafone India.

Vodafone sold its shareholding in Bharti Infotel Private Ltd back to Bharti Enterprises (Holding) Private Limited. “The disposal follows the new Unified Licence regime in India published by the Department of Telecoms, which prohibits the holding by a group of an interest in more than one licensee company in the same service area,” Vodafone said in the report.

The department of telecommunications’ regulations forbid telecom companies holding a stake in competitors in a bid to discourage cartelization in the telecom sector. Vodafone India is the second largest telecom operator in the country with 184.56 million subscribers as of April 2015.

Vodafone Group has reportedly revived its plan to launch an Initial Public Offering (IPO) for its Indian subsidiary Vodafone India next year is apparently looking to raise as much as $4 billion through this IPO, which would make it one of the largest ever in the country. Vodafone Group is expected to take a final call on the valuation by August 2015, and complete the IPO process by the end of Q4-FY16. Vodafone Group had bought out Vodafone India’s minority stakeholders like Analjit Singh and Piramal Healthcare to acquire 100% stake in the company, in April last year.

Vodafone mobile Internet: Vodafone India added 2.8 million 3G Internet connections in Q4-FY15. At the end of the quarter, its total 3G Internet connections user base was 19.4 million, and its total mobile Internet connection base was 64 million. The telco’s blended mobile ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) for the quarter was Rs 184, marginally down 2.6% from Rs 189 in the previous quarter, while its average data usage per user for the quarter was 331 MB, up 6.8% from 310 MB in the previous quarter.

Payments bank license: In February this year, Vodafone applied for a payments bank license with the RBI. The company said it’s exploring options for partnerships and would look to leverage its telco experience in the mobile payments space. Note that Vodafone subsidiary Vodafone M-Pesa Limited (VMPL) received a three year renewal of its prepaid wallet license in November last year.

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