Bharti To Acquire 3.33 PC Stake in Airtel for USD1.6 bn From Singtel
Bharti Telecom, the promoter firm of Bharti Airtel is set to buy 3.33 per cent stakes in the company from existing stakeholder Singapore’s Singtel for INR 12,895 crore (USD 1.61 billion) leaving Singtel with 29.7 per cent shares in the company, it said in a statement.
According to the statement, the sale will happen over a period of 90 days. Singtel’s reduced holding in Bharti Airtel will comprise a 19.2 per cent indirect stake through BTL and 10.5 direct stake. The Mittal family’s stake in Bharti Airtel will rise to 25.64 per cent from the earlier 22.34 per cent.
At present, the Mittal family and Singtel own 50.6 per cent and 49.4 per cent, respectively, in BTL, which holds 35.4 per cent in Bharti Airtel. In addition, Singtel and the Mittal family directly hold 13.9 per cent and 6.04 per cent, respectively in Airtel.
Singtel has been a shareholder in Bharti Airtel since 2000. “Bharti and Singtel have agreed to work towards equalising their stake in Airtel over a period of time. BTL will calibrate and spread such acquisitions to maintain a comfortable level of leverage,” Bharti Airtel said in the statement.
Sunil Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Enterprises, said, “After this inter-se transaction, Bharti Telecom will remain the principal vehicle to hold controlling shares in Airtel. Bharti Enterprises and Singtel have agreed to work towards equalising their effective stake in Airtel over time.”
Analysts said that acquiring 3.33 per cent stake from Singtel does not bring any strategic gain to the Mittal family, so it’s possible that in future it may look at getting a digital partner.
Roping in some of the big-tech players does offer a digital edge to Bharti Airtel as there’s a lot of convergence happening between telecom and tech players. For instance, through the strategic partnership with Google struck earlier during the year, Bharti would benefit by way of building extensive offerings that cover a range of Android-enabled devices, and developing a cloud ecosystem.
Singtel said that the stake sale would unlock roughly USD 2.25 billion (Singapore dollar) as part of Singtel Group’s capital recycling strategy. It added that the transaction is set to crystallise an estimated SUSD0.6 billion net gain on divestment for the Singapore telecom firm.
“This sale in Airtel will be our first ever and seeks to address this gap by illuminating the sizeable value of our holdings in Airtel. It is also part of our capital management approach to take monetisation opportunities that allow us to increase our return on invested capital and enhance total shareholder returns,” Singtel said in a statement.
The company, however, added that it remains a long-term investor, having invested around SUSD1.3 billion in Airtel over the last three years. “We remain committed, long-term investors and look forward to unlocking Airtel’s significant long-term growth potential as it further transforms India’s digital economy through 5G,” Singtel’s group CFO Arthur Lang said in a statement.
Singtel plans to invest SUSD2.25 billion raised from this transaction into 5G services and growth initiatives in the next few years, Lang added.