Vodafone looks to sell stake worth $2.5 billion in Indian cell tower firm

FILE PHOTO: A branded sign is displayed on a Vodafone store in London

(Reuters) -Britain's Vodafone is looking to sell its entire 28.1% stake in Indus Towers Ltd, India's largest cell tower firm, the telecom group said on Wednesday.

Vodafone has launched an initial sale of 63.6 million Indus shares and said it was in talks with various parties regarding the sale of its remaining shares.

The company's total stake of 757.8 million shares was worth roughly 190.7 billion rupees ($2.56 billion) as of Friday close, according to Reuters calculations.

The development comes after a challenging period for Vodafone in India, where its local arm, Vodafone Idea, has faced intense competition and lost millions of wireless subscribers to Reliance's Jio and Bharti Airtel.

Vodafone Idea's troubles have been compounded by huge dues owed to the Indian government, which is expected to own a 35.8% stake in the venture through a recent deal.

The British firm said on Wednesday it was in advanced talks with one of Indus's largest shareholders to sell a 4.7% stake in the company.

The company did not provide a name, but Indian media reported Vodafone was in talks to sell a 5% stake in Indus to Bharti Airtel. Bharti Enterprises Ltd, Bharti Airtel's parent, is Indus's largest shareholder, according to Refinitiv data.

Vodafone is also in talks with "several interested parties" to potentially sell its remaining shareholding in Indus, the company said.

($1 = 74.5510 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Sachin Ravikumar in Bengaluru and Paul Sandle in London; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Sriraj Kalluvila)