Singapore-based telecom operator Singtel will invest Rs 2,649 crore in Bharti Telecom, raising its stake in the promoter company of Bharti Airtel by 1.7 per cent.
With this investment, Singtel’s total stake (along with its affiliates) in Bharti Telecom will increase to 48.90 per cent. Singtel currently holds 47.17 per cent stake in Bharti Telecom. This will lead to an increase of Singtel economic interest in Bharti Airtel by 0.9 percentage points to 39.5 per cent.
The Mittal family’s Bharti Enterprises continues to hold over 50 per cent stake in Bharti Telecom, which owns 50.1 per cent stake in Bharti Airtel at the end of 2017.
“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,” Arthur Lang, CEO International at Singtel, said in a statement.
The funds raised will be used towards debt reduction. As on December 31, 2017, the company’s consolidated net debt stood at `91,714 crore higher than `91,480 crore in the previous quarter.
Bharti Airtel shares rose by over four per cent on Monday after the announ-cement. “The fresh round of investment highlights the confidence of Singtel in Airtel, and the incre-ased attractiveness of the Indian telecoms sector following the recent consolidation,” said Deven Khanna, MD, Bharti Telecom. Bharti Airtel had over 394 million customers across its operations at the end of December 2017. The company is currently has operations in 16 countries across Asia and Africa.
Singtel has assembled a portfolio of stakes in regional mobile firms outside its small home market, and overseas businesses now account for 75 per cent of its earnings.
The investment comes within 23 months of Singtel’s participation in the rights issue.