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Oaktree, Varde offer US$2b funding to Vodafone Idea

[MUMBAI] A consortium backed by Oaktree Capital has offered to provide at least US$2 billion of funding to Vodafone Group's listed Indian arm, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Oaktree teamed up with several other firms including Varde Partners for the potential deal with Vodafone Idea, according to the people. The investor group made a proposal to provide around US$2 billion to US$2.5 billion of capital to Vodafone Idea, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.

Vodafone Idea said in September it plans to raise as much as 250 billion rupees (S$4.53 billion) selling shares and debt to shore up its finances as competition heats up in the Indian wireless industry. It wasn't immediately clear how a potential deal with the Oaktree-backed consortium would be structured.

The Indian carrier has also been speaking to other potential investors, and there's no certainty the negotiations will lead to an agreement, the people said. Representatives for Oaktree, Varde and Vodafone Idea declined to comment.

Shares of Vodafone Idea rose as much as 4.4 per cent Thursday in Mumbai. The stock has fallen more than 25 per cent since Sept 3 when it said its ability to continue as a business relied on successful negotiations with lenders and sufficient cash flow to settle or refinance liabilities coming due.

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