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India's Viom Networks eyes IPO in 2013

Mobile tower company says it will kickstart initial public offering proceedings in January, and is not worried by poor response from retail investors in Bharti Infratel's IPO.
Written by Jamie Yap, Contributor

Viom Networks, India's largest independent mobile tower company, said it plans to start initial public offering (IPO) proceedings in January next year.

In a report by The Hindu Business Line Sunday, Sunil Kanoria, vice chairman and managing director of Viom Networks, said while the company will go ahead with IPO proceedings, it has yet to finalize the IPO details or the amount it intends to raise.

Viom Networks is a joint venture between Tata Teleservices, which owns 54 percent, and a consortium led by the Srei group. It has over 40,000 mobile tower sites in India and a per tower tenancy ratio of 2.4, the report said.

Viom's IPO plans come after telecom tower company Bharti Infratel raised US$832 million earlier this month in what was India's biggest IPO in two years, even though it received a weaker than expected response from retail investors. Bharti Infratel is the telecom tower unit of Indian operator Bharti Airtel.

Kanoria said that he was not bothered by the poor response from retail investors toward Bharti Infratel's IPO, the report noted. He explained that investing in a tower company would suit those who are looking at returns slightly higher than debt over a long period, and that might mean less interest from domestic retail investors, who are interested in short-term gains.

The executive also pointed out that Viom's revenues has been affected by the withdrawal of several telco operators. "We could have broken even this [fiscal] year. But because many operators have gone away, so the revenue has come down. Next year (2013-14), we should break even."

Viom's EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization), however, have been positive for the last five years, he added.

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