Vodafone India’s long-awaited initial public offering (IPO) is unlikely to take place this year, the Hindu Business Line reports, citing comments by the UK-owned firm’s management team. In October last year, the company confirmed that ‘preparatory work’ for the IPO was underway, subject to market conditions, but Vodafone has now dismissed speculation that the process is imminent. Speaking during a conference call to discuss the Group’s quarterly results, CFO Nick Read commented: ‘I think that given the speed at which the spectrum auctions are moving, and with all the uncertainty, doing an IPO this calendar year would be a surprise’. He added that preparation would take another ‘twelve months minimum’. Vodafone first signalled an interest in an Indian IPO in 2012, though these plans were put on hold following the dispute with tax authorities and regulatory changes.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in November 2015 India’s Supreme Court directed Vodafone India to deposit INR20 billion (USD301.3 million) with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in exchange for a merger licence, which would clear the way for Vodafone to merge six of its Indian units. In 2012, Vodafone sought to combine its Vodafone East, Vodafone South, Vodafone Cellular and Vodafone Digilink arms with its Vodafone Mobile division, at the same time looking to combine Vodafone West and Vodafone Spacetel with Vodafone Services, only to fall foul of the DoT. The merger is said to be a pre-requisite for an IPO.