Vodafone to sell additional 9% stake to Aditya Birla Group post-merger

Vodafone has agreed to sell 9.5 per cent additional stake to Aditya Birla Group for Rs130 per share after Birla's Idea Cellular is merged with Vodafone to create the country's largest telecom operator worth more than $23 billion.

The Aditya Birla Group has filed with the BSE the composite scheme of amalgamation between Vodafone and Idea Cellular, which stated that the merged entity shall be under the joint control of the two firms and will be governed by the shareholders' agreement.

In the merged entity, Vodafone will hold 50 per cent stake, while Aditya Birla Group will hold 21 per cent.

Upon completion of merger, Vodafone will transfer 4.9 per cent shares of merged entity to Aditya Birla Group for Rs3,874 crore.

After the transfer, the Aditya Birla Group shareholding will increase to 26 per cent and Vodafone shareholding will reduce to 45.1 per cent, according to the scheme.

The remaining 28.9 per cent will be held by other shareholders.

Also, Aditya Birla Group will have the right to acquire more shares from Vodafone at a price of Rs130 per share, in order to equalise the shareholdings over four years.

If equal shareholding is not achieved within four years, Vodafone will sell down its shareholding to equalise its shareholding with Aditya Birla Group over the following five years, the scheme said.

Until equalisation the voting rights on additional shares of Vodafone shall be exercised jointly by Vodafone and the Aditya Birla Group.

The two firms had last month announced merger of their telecom operations in India to create the country's largest mobile phone operator, which will have a projected 35 per cent market share.

The combined entity of Vodafone and Idea Cellular, which are India's number 2 and 3 mobile players, respectively, will overtake Bharti Airtel and would be in a better position to take on a raging price war unleashed by newcomer Reliance Jio in the world's second-largest telecom market.

The new company, which will come into being over the next two years, will be headed by Kumar Mangalam Birla, while Vodafone will have the right to appoint the chief financial officer.

The chief executive and the chief operating officer will be appointed with the approval of both companies. The two firms will have three nominees each on the board of the new entity, the scheme said.

The merger excludes Vodafone's 42 per cent stake in Indus Towers and will be effected through issuing new shares in Idea to Vodafone, which will result in Vodafone deconsolidating Vodafone India.

This mechanism will facilitate reducing Vodafone Group net debt by Rs55,200 crore and lowering Vodafone Group leverage by around 0.3x net debt/EBITDA, it added.

The merged venture will create India's largest mobile operator with almost 400 million users. The deal gives Vodafone India an implied enterprise value of Rs82,800 crore and Idea an enterprise value of Rs72,200 crore.

Vodafone-Idea is the second merger in the sector to be announced this year. In February, Bharti Airtel unveiled plans to buy the Indian business of the Norway-based Telenor.