On August 8, the Economic Times reported that Singtel was likely to raise its stake in Bharti Telecom, the largest shareholder in Bharti Airtel, to beyond 50%. In a clarification on the report to the BSE and NSE, Airtel said that it “may seek equity” from existing promoter group, including overseas entities, and Singtel, to “retire some debt”.
The clarification states that “even a marginal increase” in foreign equity in Bharti Telecom would take its forest investment above 50%, thereby making it a foreign-owned equity. Once that happens, Bharti Telecom’s entire stake in Bharti Airtel will be considered foreign investment. Once that happens, overseas ownership in Bharti Airtel will go to 85.07%. Bharti Airtel reportedly sought government approval last month to increase foreign shareholding to 100%.
As per the ET report, Bharti Telecom’s 41% stake in Bharti Airtel is considered domestic shareholding as it is majority-owned by the Sunil Mittal family (52%). Singtel owns a 48% share in Bharti Telecom. Singtel’s effective shareholding in Airtel, directly and through Bharti Telecom, is over 35%, while Mittals’ is 27%. After the fund infusion, Mittals’ holdings in Airtel will remain at over 26%, sources told ET.