Aditya Birla Group mulls stake sale in Idea Cellular

Aditya Birla Group mulls stake sale in Idea Cellular

Mumbai: The controlling shareholder of India’s Idea Cellular is mulling a sale of its stake in the mobile carrier and has held talks with potential bidders including MTN Group , Bloomberg reported, citing sources with knowledge of the matter.

Talks between India’s Aditya Birla Group, which owns a 47% stake in Idea, and South Africa’s MTN are at an early stage and may not result in a transaction, Bloomberg reported the sources as saying. The sources declined to be identified because the information is private.

Malaysia’s Axiata Group Bhd owns a 19% stake in Idea.

Idea’s market capitalization is about $5 billion and Aditya Birla Group’s stake is valued at about $2.35 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Any deal with MTN would likely involve a mix of cash and shares, one of the sources told the agency.

A spokeswoman for the Aditya Birla Group in Mumbai denied that the firm was in talks to sell the stake, while MTN declined to comment, Bloomberg reported.

Axiata, Malaysia’s second-largest mobile phone operator, reported a quarterly loss in February after writing down its investment in India and warned of more challenges ahead as competition intensifies.