India's Vodafone Idea receives bids for half of shares in FPO so far

FILE PHOTO: A man walks across the LED display board showing the logo of Vodafone-Idea at the ongoing India Mobile Congress 2022, at Pragati Maidan, in New Delhi

By Rama Venkat

BENGALURU (Reuters) - Indian telecom operator Vodafone Idea fetched bids worth 67.90 billion rupees ($813.03 million), with investors bidding for nearly half of the shares on offer by the second day of subscriptions in the country's largest ever share sale.

Investors bid for 6.17 billion shares, or 0.49 times the 12.60 billion shares on offer, in the follow-on public offer (FPO), with qualified institutional buyers showing the most interest, data from the National Stock Exchange showed on Friday.

"Considering that the bidding is for a large share sale, the subscription number so far seems decent. Subscriptions from retail investors should pick up," said Arun Kejriwal, founder of Kejriwal Research and Investment Services.

The FPO, which is taking place at a price band of 10-11 rupees per share, closes for bids on Monday.

Shares of the company, India's third largest telecom operator by number of subscribers, settled 2.3% lower at 12.90 rupees on Friday.

Vodafone Idea had launched the 180-billion rupee worth FPO earlier this month, India's largest, as part of a broader plan to raise funds to launch its 5G service and expand 4G coverage.

The company allotted shares worth 54 billion rupees ($646.6 million) this week to institutional investors including GQG and Fidelity.

The telecom operator has said it plans to use 57.20 billion rupees of the funds raised for setting up 22,000 5G sites by fiscal 2026, of which 10,000 would be done in fiscal 2025.

Larger rivals Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio have already launched 5G services in most parts of the country.

($1 = 83.5150 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)