According to industry sources, Bharti Airtel is open to waiving its right of first refusal if Vodafone Group Plc finds an external buyer for its 21.05 per cent stake in Indus Towers Limited. Airtel owns 47.95 per cent in Indus Towers.
Of late, Vodafone Group Plc and Aditya Birla Group are facing increasing pressure from the government and lenders to infuse equity into Vodafone Idea Limited (Vi), to shore up external investor confidence. One of the avenues available to the British telco is selling its remaining or part of the 21.05 per cent stake in Indus Towers and injecting the proceeds into Vi.
Vodafone Group Plc, on its part, has previously said it was talking to several interested parties to sell its stake in Indus Towers. Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), Canadian pension fund, was in talks to buy Vodafone’s 21.05 per cent stake in Indus Towers. However, the talks have not fructified as yet.
Besides needing funds urgently to clear its dues to large vendors such as Indus Towers, American Tower Corporation (ATC), Nokia, Ericsson and banks, the telco has to roll out 5G services as well as expand 4G coverage and rein in customer losses to Reliance Jio and Airtel. It is widely believed that Vi needs around Rs 400-450 billion to become viable.