Bharti Infratel sets price band for $825 million IPO

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:07pm IST

A Bharti Airtel advertisement board is installed against the backdrop of company's telecommunication tower in Kochi November 30, 2012. REUTERS/Sivaram V/Files

A Bharti Airtel advertisement board is installed against the backdrop of company's telecommunication tower in Kochi November 30, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Sivaram V/Files

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NEW DELHI/MUMBAI (Reuters) - Bharti Infratel Ltd, the telecommunications tower unit of top phone carrier Bharti Airtel Ltd(BRTI.NS), is set to raise up to $825 million next month in what would be the country's biggest initial share offering in two years.

Bharti Infratel, which will sell shares at a discount to global peers, is one of several Indian firms due to sell shares by the end of the year, tapping a revival in investors' appetite for risk after a slack first half.

The company set a price band of 210-240 rupees per share for its initial public offering, which will open on December 10 for cornerstone investors and a day later for the public, closing on December 14, it said on Friday.

The sale of 188.9 million shares, or 10 percent of the company, is set to be the country's largest since state-run Coal India Ltd (COAL.NS) raised $3.5 billion in October 2010.

At the upper end of the price band, Bharti Infratel would raise about 45.3 billion rupees.

Bharti Infratel will sell about 146 million new shares, while four of its stockholders, including arms of Singapore state investor Temasek and Goldman Sachs (GS.N), are selling 42.7 million shares, according to a regulatory filing.

Billionaire Sunil Mittal's company Bharti Airtel, which owns about 86 percent of Bharti Infratel, will not sell any shares.

Graphic on India's top IPOs: link.reuters.com/suw24t

Indian businesses raised $7.1 billion from share offerings in the first half of this year, down 4 percent from the same period in 2011, according to Thomson Reuters data, but the country's IPO market is poised to end the year with a flourish.

The government plans to raise roughly $1.2 billion by selling shares in miner NMDC Ltd (NMDC.NS) on December 13, sources said on Thursday. That could be preceded by a handful of smaller, private sector IPOs.

"I'm sure there will be lot of issues waiting to happen if the market revives. A lot depends on valuations and whether investors make money out of it," said Srividhya Rajesh, a fund manager with Sundaram Mutual Fund.

TOUGH MARKET

Bharti Infratel shares will be sold at a discount to global peers, with a forward EV/EBITDA (enterprise value/earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) ratio of 9-10.5 times, based on the indicated range, the company said.

That compares with 17.8 times at American Tower Corp (AMT.N) and 17.2 times at Crown Castle International Corp (CCI.N). Indonesian tower firm PT Tower Bersama Infrastructure (TBIG.JK) trades at 17.6 times its forward EV/EBITDA.

A sector analyst who declined to be named said the pricing was relatively cheap due to the uncertain economic environment.

Bharti Infratel's profit was up 36 percent to 7.5 billion rupees in the fiscal year that ended in March, the company said.

It has more than 34,000 mobile phone masts and holds a 42 percent stake in Indus Towers, the world's biggest tower company. With Indus, it has a 37.8 percent share of the national tower market.

Mast companies earn their revenue from leasing infrastructure to mobile phone carriers. A court order this year revoking several carriers' operating permits has weighed on demand, but mast owners expect it to pick up as carriers expand data services on third and fourth-generation networks.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAC.N), JPMorgan (JPM.N), Barclays (BARC.L), Standard Chartered (STAN.L), Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE), HSBC (HSBA.L) and UBS UBSN.VX, as well as Kotak Mahindra and Enam, are advisors for the IPO.

The shares will be listed on Bombay Stock Exchange and National Stock Exchange, the company said in a statement. (Additional reporting by Aradhana Aravindan in MUMBAI; Editing by Daniel Magnowski and Tony Munroe)

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