ICICI Venture, one of the largest private equity firms in the country, is looking to sell its 49 per cent stake in Indian Express Newspapers (Mumbai) Ltd (IENL), which manages Express Towers, located at Mumbai’s Nariman Point.
ICICI Venture was currently in talks with a number of investors like Blackstone, two executives in the know of the plans said.
It was looking at getting around Rs 1,000 crore for its stake, which is double the Rs 500-crore investment it had made four years ago, sources familiar with the developments confirmed.
IENL is jointly owned by the Indian Express Group and IAF III, a fund managed by ICICI Venture.
“They have received a number of enquiries from private equity funds and investors who want to buy the stake. But the talks are preliminary so far,” said the executive.
When contacted, an ICICI Venture spokesperson said the company neither confirmed nor denied any speculation on its deals/transactions, as a matter of policy. A senior executive of Blackstone, which, in fact, occupies a floor in the 25-storey building owned by housing finance major HDFC, offered “no comments”.
Though the executives said investors had also shown interest in buying stake from the Express group, this could not be independently verified. Mails sent to Indian Express Group Chairman Viveck Goenka did not elicit any response.
In early 2008, ICICI Venture had picked the stake in the company through its fund IAF III. After buying the stake, the private equity firm also renovated the lobby area and installed high-speed lifts in the building.
ICICI Venture was earlier planning to list yield-generating assets such as Express Towers, but the tough market conditions played spoilsport.