Singapore Telecoms, (Singtel) has announced that it is spending $413 million (Rs 2,649 crore) on shares in India’s Bharti Telecom.
This could increase Singtel’s stake in Bharti Telecom by up to 1.7 percentage points to 48.9% and its holding in Bharti Airtel, by up to 0.9 percentage points to 39.5 %. The deal will be done via a preferential share allotment. Singtel International Investments will be allotted up to 85,450,000 new equity shares in Bharti Telecom at an issue price of 310 rupees per equity share.
Airtel said in a statement that it would use the money to reduce its debt, which has piled up to Rs 91,714 crore as of December 2017. Its consolidated net debt stood at Rs 91,480 crore in the September quarter.
According to Mr Arthur Lang, Singtel CEO International, “This is a good opportunity for us to deepen our strategic partnership with Airtel. While there are currently headwinds in India, we take a long-term view of our investment in Airtel which continues to be a strong market leader in a region with rapidly increasing smartphone penetration and mobile data adoption.”
Airtel is India’s largest telecommunications company with operations in 16 countries across South Asia and Africa and a customer base of over 390 million. It has been an associate of the Group since Singtel acquired a stake in 2000.