India's IDEA Has Ideal Debut

Mobile operator Idea Cellular Ltd. made its stock market debut Friday, gaining as much as 23 percent on India's National Stock Exchange.

Shares in the carrier hit a high of 92 Indian rupees (US$2.07) before closing at Rs85.70 ($1.93), a 14.27 percent premium on its IPO price of Rs75 ($1.69). (See India's IDEA Sets IPO Date.) IDEA, controlled by the Aditya Birla Group , raised around $500 million from the offering.

On the Bombay Stock Exchange, IDEA traded at a high of Rs94.25 ($2.12) and closed at Rs85.55 ($1.93). Both markets were down 1 percent at the end of a volatile trading day.

IDEA Cellular is India's fifth largest carrier, with a subscriber base of 13.6 million and an 8.4 percent market share. Managing Director Sanjeev Aga told reporters today that the company intends to invest around $2 billion in network expansion in the next two years to compete with the likes of Hutchison Essar , which is being acquired by Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD). (See Vodafone Wins Battle to Buy Essar.)

IDEA last week awarded a three-year expansion contract to Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) for GSM equipment in five of the 11 regions in which it operates. (See Ericsson Wins in India.) The operator will begin offering services in the Mumbai and Bihar regions later this year and has applied for licenses in the country's nine other regions.

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

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