India's Spice Plans $300M IPO

Indian mobile operator Spice Telecom is looking at a $300 million IPO before the year is out, as part of a $2 billion expansion plan.

Spice is one of several regional carriers looking to build a national network to tap into the country's rapid mobile subscriber growth, and is awaiting approval from India's Department of Telecom for its license applications. (See Indian Mobile Set to Spread.) It has previously hinted at the possibility of an IPO in the first quarter of 2007.

According to the Press Trust of India news agency, Spice chairman and CEO Dilip Modi told a news conference Monday that the $2 billion will be raised from a range of sources, including equity and debt funding. The IPO, which is expected to raise between $250 million and $300 million, will represent 20 percent of the company's equity.

Malaysian incumbent Telekom Malaysia Bhd. holds a 49 per cent stake in the operator through its subsidiary, TM International, while the remaining 51 per cent is owned by SpiceCorp (India).

JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank AG and Enam Securities have been appointed to handle the IPO. Modi said the company intends to raise $350 million through a second public offering in the next two years to provide more cash if its license applications are approved. In addition to expanding its network coverage, Spice has applied to enter the long distance services market.

India's bustling telecom sector is full of IPO talk, with Idea Cellular Ltd. and Hutchison Essar also planning to go public soon, and software and services firm Tech Mahindra Ltd. 's successful foray into the markets last week. (See Birla's Big IDEA for India, Hutchison Essar Preps IPO, and Tech Mahindra Soars on Debut.)

Spice, which operates in two of India's 23 regions, is gearing up its operations for the expansion, and said Friday it has appointed Mohan Nandwani as chief operating officer for its business in the Punjab region.

— Nicole Willing, Reporter, Light Reading

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