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Tata’s Indian Tower Venture Viom Networks May Sell Shares in IPO

Viom Networks Ltd., an Indian mobile phone tower operator partly owned by the Tata Group, is considering selling shares in an initial public offering, a company official said.

“We are evaluating various options to raise funds and may come up with an IPO in the next one to three years,” said Raza Khan, head of corporate communications at the company. The offer may raise about 50 billion rupees ($1.1 billion), two people familiar with plans for a possible IPO said, declining to be named because discussions are preliminary.

Viom is a joint venture between Quippo Telecom Infrastructure Ltd. and the infrastructure arm of Tata Teleservices Ltd. A group of investors led by a fund owned by Macquarie Group Ltd. and State Bank of India paid 14.2 billion rupees for an 11 percent stake in Viom, Quippo said this month.

“Since we are in the process of evaluating various options currently, it would not only be premature but also speculative to comment on the exact nature and details of these options,” Khan said, declining to comment on the amount a share sale may raise.

Viom is reviewing bids from more than a dozen investment banks before deciding whether to sell stock, the people familiar with the plans said.

The company may assign banks within the next few weeks, the people said. Should Viom decide to go ahead with the IPO, the stock may go on sale next year, they said.

Citigroup Inc., Credit Suisse Group AG, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and UBS AG, are among banks that have pitched for the deal, according to the people.

Enterprise Value

The Economic Times reported today that funds raised in an IPO would be evenly divided between Viom and private equity investors.

Viom is looking to raise funds based on an enterprise value of 300 billion rupees, the Times said, citing an unidentified banker who pitched for the deal. The company had operating profit of 9 billion rupees on sales of 17 billion rupees, according to the report.

The company has 37,000 communications towers and plans to add as many as 25,000 in the next two years, according to a press statement on Aug. 11.

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