ICICI, Temasek Revive Plans to Sell Firstsource Stake

HONG KONG/MUMBAI (Reuters) – India’s ICICI Bank (ICBK.BO), Singapore’s state investor Temasek Holdings and another large shareholder have revived plans to sell their stakes in back-office company Firstsource Solutions (FISO.BO), in a deal valued at $285 million at the current market price, sources said.

ICICI, Temasek’s Aranda Investment and U.S.-based banking technology group Metavante own a combined 68 percent of Firstsource and have hired Citigroup (C.N) to arrange the deal, the sources with direct knowledge of the deal said on Monday.

The sources declined to be named as they were not authorised to speak to the media.

The news pushed Firstsource shares to a session high of 37.35 rupees or 5.4 percent. By 0922 GMT, the shares were up 3 percent in a firm Mumbai market .BSESN

ICICI shares extended gains to over 5 percent on the news.

ICICI declined to comment. Temasek officials in India could not be immediately reached.

A spokeswoman for Firstsource in an e-mailed reply said she did not want to comment on market speculation.

The three companies’ joint holding in Firstsource is valued at about $220 million at current pricing, but a sale would also attract a public offer for a further 20 percent in the company to conform to Indian regulations.

The three companies tried to sell Firstsource last year in a deal valued at about $400 million, hiring Goldman Sachs (GS.N), but potential buyers baulked at the price amid the global financial crisis. 

“The sale process is just starting, we are preparing the ground. Target buyers would primairly be private equity investors and software services companies that have back-office units,” a source said.

It was too early to name potential buyers, the sources said.

By Narayanan Somasundaram & Indulal P.M
(Editing by Chris Lewis)