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Bharti sells Beetel’s majority stake to Brightstar; The Softbank connection

Beetel Softbank

Bharti Enterprises has inked an agreement to sell majority stake in Beetel Teletech Limited to a subsidiary of the US-based Brightstar Corp for an undisclosed amount.

Brightstar mentions that this acquisition will enable to distribute mobile devices and accessories from popular manufacturers through Beetel’s distribution channels in the country. Beetel claims to currently have a B2B distribution reach of 500 distributors and partners, 10,000 retailers and 28 warehouses across India.

Beetel will also retain its name and all the existing employees will continue operating from its headquarters in Gurgaon, India. The terms of the deal were however not disclosed.

The Softbank connection

It’s worth noting that Softbank is the largest shareholder in Brightstar, having acquired 57% stake in the company’s US subsidiary for $1.26 billion in January this year. Following this, Softbank had also sold its Commerce and Service division to Brightstar. This division was the distributor of information and communications technology (ICT) hardware & software products and mobile accessories in Japan.

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Post acquisition, Brightstar also became the primary global distributor for SoftBank’s “SELECTION” brand of mobile products which apparently features more than 765 mobile accessories like devices cases and chargers.

On the other hand, Softbank has a 50:50 mobile Internet joint venture with Bharti Enterprises called Bharti Softbank which operates ventures like Hike (mobile messaging), Hoppr (location-based deals service) and Tiny Mogul Games (mobile gaming).

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Founded in 1985, Beetel manufactures fixed line telephones for MTNL, BSNL and Airtel as well as sells landline phones for regular consumers and apparently exports them to more than 30 countries across five continents. This includes basic landline phones, caller ID phones and cordless phones.

Besides landline phones, it also manufactured mobile phones and mobile broadband devices like 3G data cards, WiFi modems and WiFi routers among others and distributes memory and storage devices for brands like Transcend and SanDisk. It also distributes and markets enterprise solutions from technology brands like Samsung, Panasonic, Polycom, Avaya, AMX, Extron, and RADWIN, among others.

Airtel was also previously distributing iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S through Beetel, until Apple changed its distribution strategy with iPhone 5, by tying up with national distributors like Redington and Ingram Micro for distribution.

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Apart from this, Beetel had also launched an Android tablet called Beetel Magiq in August 2011 and had followed it up with another Android tablet called Beetel Magiq II in October 2011.

(with inputs from Vivek)

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