Three private equity players - India's ChrysCapital, TA Associates of the UK and Citigroup - have picked up a 10 per cent stake in Aditya Birla group-promoted wireless communications company Idea Cellular.
This comes in the wake of Providence Equity Partners buying a 15 per cent stake in the cellular company.
While ChrysCapital was learnt to have invested about $120 million for about 4 per cent in Idea Cellular, the London-based TA Associates made an equal investment to pick up a stake of almost the same size, said sources close to the development.
The private equity deals in Idea Cellular will bring down the Aditya Birla group's combined holding in the communications company to around 73 per cent from 98.3 per cent.
The total investment by private equity investment companies, including Providence Equity Partners, in Idea Cellular is expected to be worth over $550 million.
An Idea Cellular executive confirmed that the three private equity players had bought stakes in the company.
ChrysCapital said it acquired approximately 4 per cent in Idea Cellular but the terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Ashish Dhawan, senior managing director of ChrysCapital, said, "We are pleased to actively work with the Aditya Birla group in Idea Cellular, an exceptionally strong, well-managed company in the world's fastest growing wireless market."
According to Ashley Menezes, chief financial officer of ChrysCapital, this marks its first investment in telecommunications.
He added that ChrysCapital planned to continue associating actively with companies that, like Idea, were led by experienced management and had established businesses with significant opportunities for growth.
A TA Associates media release from London stated that it had completed a significant minority investment in Idea Cellular, one of the fastest growing providers of wireless communications services in India.
Though the terms of the transaction were not disclosed, the release quoted Ajit Nedungadi, director of TA Associates, saying that it was excited at the opportunity to invest in Idea Cellular.
"Given the low level of wireline penetration, wireless operators are fulfilling a basic communications need in India and will continually address larger proportions of the population," he added in the release.
Idea Cellular is a leading wireless operator in India with over 10.4 million subscribers and operations in 11 of the country's 24 circles.
The company is among the top five cellular service providers in India in terms of revenue, and among the top three within its existing circles, providing service to 58 per cent of India's total telephony market.In addition to its cellular services, Idea provides several innovative value-added services.