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Singtel’s Rs 2649 crore stake deal with Bharti Telecom completed

Singaporean telecommunication company Singtel’s to invest Rs 2,649 crore in Airtel’s parent Bharti Telecom has been completed, increasing its stake to 48.9% from 47.7% in the Indian telecom player. Bharti Enterprises continues to hold over 50% stake in Bharti Telecom.

The deal was finalised in early February and Singtel was allotted 85.45 million new equity shares at an issue price of Rs 310 each.

Just yesterday, the company also announced the issuance of foreign currency bonds and privately placed non-convertible debentures (NCDs) worth Rs 16,500 crore. In a meeting, its board approved floating of NCDs worth Rs 10,000 crore and foreign currency bonds up to a limit of US $1 billion or roughly Rs 6,500 crore. This is the largest-ever fund raise approved by Airtel’s Board of Directors in a single meeting.

Separately, Bharti Telecom also announced its board’s approval to transfer of 19% equity shares of DTH arm, Bharti Telemedia, to Nettle Infrastructure Investments Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary. This was in part to complete the sale of the DTH arm to American private equity firm Warburg Pincus.

In December 2017, Warburg Pincus agreed to buy 20% stake in Bharti Telemedia for $350 million. The remainder 1% stake sale will likely be from another Bharti entity. The DTH business has a sizable distribution infrastructure, with over 1,500 partners and over 1,58,000 recharge outlets in approximately 630 districts of the country.

These deals appear to be part of Airtel’s push for debt reduction over the last year. Jio’s entry in the telecom business has cut into Airtel’s revenues through free call offers and cheap data plans. Bharti Airtel’s consolidated net debt also increased to Rs 91,714 crore as of 31 December from Rs 91,480 crore in the previous quarter.

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