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Airtel looking to sell controlling stake in tower asset firm Bharti Infratel

Airtel’s board has set up a Committee of Directors (COD) to evaluate the possibility of selling a part of its stake in tower asset firm Bharti Infratel, the company informed BSE. The company added that following this, 13.96% stake in Bharti Infratel was sold to a group of private equity investors, and via qualified institutional placements (QIPs) “by way of market transactions”. However, it didn’t provided details regarding the number of equity shares sold and the value of the deal. Currently, Airtel holds a controlling 58% stake in Bharti Infratel, both directly and through its wholly-owned subsidiary Nettle Infrastructure.

The company mentioned that it has been approached by certain global investors, who’re interested in acquiring “a significant stake in Bharti Infratel.” If this is approved by Airtel’s board it’ll result in Airtel surrendering its controlling stake in Bharti Infratel. Note that no agreement has been finalised as yet.

Bharti Infratel is also looking to acquire stake in Indus Tower Limited, “with the aim of making it a subsidiary or wholly owned subsidiary.” Indus Towers is a joint venture between Bharti Infratel, Vodafone India, and Idea Cellular, with Bharti Infratel and Vodafone India holding 42% stake each, while Idea Cellular holds a stake of 11.15%. The remaining 4.85% stake is held by US-based private equity firm Providence.

Airtel’s board goes back on earlier decision

Earlier this year, in March, Airtel had decided against selling a controlling stake in Bharti Infratel. At the time, Airtel’s board had instead approved the sale of up to 400 million equity shares owned by Bharti Airtel in Infratel to potential investors. Later the same month, Airtel completed the sale of 10.3% stake in Bharti Infratel worth $951.6 million (Rs 6,193.9 crore). The buyers included a consortium of funds advised by private equity firm KKR and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. The transaction was completed as a “secondary sale of over 190 million shares” from Bharti Infratel at a price of Rs 325 per share. Following the stake sale, Airtel held a controlling stake of 61.7% in Bharti Infratel.

In August, Airtel sold an additional 67.53 million shares or a 3.7% stake in Bharti Infratel through a secondary share sale in the stock market, via Nettle Infrastructure. The total value of the shares sold was Rs 2,570 crore at Rs 380.6 per share.

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