March 26, 2015 / 11:24 AM / 2 years ago

SoftBank leads group in talks to buy up to $1 billion stake in India's Micromax: sources

Mobile phones of Softbank Corp, Japan's third-biggest wireless carrier, are displayed at a store in Tokyo October 29, 2008.Kim Kyung-Hoon

MUMBAI (Reuters) - A group of investors led by Japanese mobile telecom firm SoftBank Corp is in talks to buy a 20 percent stake in Indian handset maker Micromax Informatics for up to $1 billion, two people aware of the discussions said.

The investment would value Micromax, an unlisted provider of affordable smartphones that competes with South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co, at around $5 billion, the people said. They did not want to be named because the talks aren't public.

One of the people said a deal would likely involve the sale of some 20 percent of Micromax by existing investors, raising $800 million to $1 billion. Micromax, controlled by its founders, counts private equity firms Sequoia Capital and TA Associates among its investors.

Micromax entered the Indian mobile handset market in 2008 and is credited with fuelling the rise of smartphones in the country. In February, research firm Canalys said Micromax overtook Samsung in the fourth quarter as the leading supplier in India's booming smartphone market, though Samsung later challenged the finding.

Micromax declined to comment. A SoftBank spokesman in Tokyo declined to comment.

Additional reporting by Teppei Kasai in TOKYO; Editing by Clara Ferreira Marques and Kenneth Maxwell

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