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Following reports indicating Bharti Airtel's potential acquisition of a 21.05% stake in Indus Towers from Vodafone Group, the telecom company has refuted these claims.

"The company has no desire to raise its stake beyond what is required for financial consolidation of Indus in the company, which shall be done as, and when, appropriate with compliance of applicable disclosure requirements," Airtel said in an exchange filing.

Speculations reportedly suggested that if Vodafone Plc sells its stake to Airtel, it might infuse funds into Vodafone Idea (Vi)—its struggling Indian telecom venture—with the Aditya Birla Group.

According to the most recent filing by Indus Towers with the BSE, Airtel presently holds the largest stake at 47.95%, followed by Vodafone Group at 21.05%, while the remaining 30.97% is held by the public. If Airtel were to acquire Vodafone's stake, its ownership in Indus would surge to 69%.

Indus shares recently saw a 2.9% increase, closing at INR 359.65 on the BSE, resulting in a market capitalization of INR 96,923.41 crore. At this valuation, Airtel's acquisition of the 21.05% stake would amount to approximately INR 20,402.37 crore. However, Airtel is proposing a lower valuation of around INR 12,026 crore, based on the desired share price range.

Meanwhile, Vi's CEO, Akshaya Moondra, clarified that the proceeds from the recently concluded INR 18,000 crore follow-on public offer (FPO) would not be used to settle any dues owed to promoters or promoter group entities, suggesting a reference to Indus, as per the report. He mentioned that Vi intends to address vendor dues using cash flow from operations, without detailing a specific timeline for clearing Indus' dues.

Vi currently contributes 35-40% of Indus Towers' revenue. Ambit Capital estimates that Vi still owes Indus approximately INR 10,000 crore. However, Vi has taken steps to tackle its outstanding dues to Indus, leading to a notable boost in the tower company's net profit for the third fiscal quarter.

By the end of December, Indus Towers managed a total of 211,775 towers, with Bharti Airtel and Vi being its main customers.


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