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Reliance Comm may raise up to $1.5 bln in unit IPO: sources

india Updated: Jan 18, 2012 16:40 IST

Telecoms company Reliance Communications is looking to raise up to $1.5 billion through an initial public offering in Singapore of its undersea cable unit, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.

The debt-laden mobile phone operator, controlled by billionaire Anil Ambani, plans to sell 75% of the wholly-owned unit, one source said. The other source said a listing could happen between July and September.

Reliance Communications intends to list the unit as a business trust, said both the sources, who declined to be named as the plans are not yet public.

"It is still quite early for the deal ... (it) will be a fairly large deal," one of the sources said, adding Reliance Communications could raise at least $1 billion from the planned listing.

Deutsche Bank is arranging the planned share sale, the sources said.

A Reliance Communications spokesman in Mumbai declined to comment on any IPO plans, but said in a statement the company "continually works on various options to unlock value from its unique combination of global telecom assets for the benefit of its shareholders".

A Deutsche bank spokeswoman in Singapore declined comment.

Reliance Communications, whose mobile phone unit is India's second-largest by subscribers, in 2003 acquired the FLAG undersea cable network for $207 million. The business is now part of its Reliance Globalcom unit.

Reliance Globalcom owns the world's largest private undersea cable system spanning 65,000 kilometres, according to its website.

In December 2009, sources had told Reuters that Reliance Communications hoped to raise around $3 billion by selling the undersea cable business. It found no takers.

The company, which had net debt of about $6.5 billion as of end-September, has also been trying to sell its telecoms tower business in India to raise funds.

On Tuesday, Reliance Communications said it had secured $1.18 billion loans from Chinese banks to repay overseas convertible bonds due for redemption on March 1.

Reliance Communications shares were trading down 0.62% in afternoon trade on Wednesday, reversing earlier gains of as much as 3.3%. The shares had closed 2.8% higher on Tuesday after the company announced the loan deal.