Thursday, January 31, 2008

India's Spice Plans $500 Million IPO, First in Dubai (Update)

By Andrea Tan; 23 January 2008 (Bloomberg)
Spice Corp., the Indian group that operates a mobile-phone carrier with Telekom Malaysia Bhd., plans to seek $500 million in an initial public offering in Dubai, the first Indian company to sell shares in the Middle East.
Spice will sell a 20 percent stake in the second half of next year to raise funds to invest across Asia, Chairman Bhupendra Kumar Modi said.
Modi said he needs funds to sell handsets and wireless services including ring tones and mobile entertainment news, and to acquire companies. Demand for financial products that comply with Islamic law have attracted more than $250 billion globally, rising 24 percent annually over five years, Malayan Banking Bhd. said in December.
``We're attractive to Islamic funds, that's a new kind of money,'' Modi, 59, said. ``We want to expand from I to I, Iran to Indonesia.''
Spice plans to hire 8,000 workers this year, boosting the number of employees to 20,000, he said.
KPMG International, Spice's auditors, are preparing for the share sale, he said.
Spice Communications Ltd. offers services in two regions in India. The company, 39 percent held by Telekom Malaysia, raised 5.2 billion rupees ($132 million) in an IPO last year.
Modi said Vodafone Group Plc, AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and China Mobile Ltd. had offered to buy Spice Communications. Modi's family holds a 41 percent stake in the wireless operator.
``We're not open to takeovers'' for Spice Communications, Modi said. ``Some companies have a criteria that they must own 51 percent and we don't like those companies, we don't want to sell out.'' Vodafone spokesman Simon Gordon said the Newbury, England- based company hasn't made an offer for Spice. `There is no such thing,'' Rainie Lei, a spokeswoman at China Mobile Ltd., said by telephone.
Greg Brutus, a regional spokesman for AT&T, also refused to comment in an e-mail.
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