06 February 2018
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
Singtel is increasing its stake in Indian and African operator Bharti Airtel at a cost of $413 million.
The company is carrying out the process by buying 85 million
new shares in Bharti Telecom, the holding company of Bharti
Airtel. As a result Singtel’s economic interest in
Airtel will increase by 0.9 percentage points to 39.5%.
Arthur Lang, CEO of Singtel International, said: "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
Airtel has a 31% share of the Indian mobile
market following the takeover of Telenor India and Tata
Teleservices, putting it behind the combination of Vodafone
India and Idea Cellular, which will have a 34% share.
But it also has operations in 15 other countries across South
Asia and Africa and a total customer base – including
India – of over 390 million. Singtel first acquired a
stake in 2000.
The deal will be done by a preferential share allotment by the
end of March, after which Singtel’s stake in
Bharti Telecom, the holding company, will rise by 1.7
percentage points to 48.9%. Bharti Telecom holds 50.1% of the
share capital of Bharti Airtel. The deal values Bharti Airtel
at $45 billion.
International operations now account for 75% of
Singtel’s earnings. As well as Airtel, it owns
stakes in operators AIS in Thailand, Globe Telecom in the
Philippines, Optus in Australia and Telkomsel in Indonesia,
plus online TV service Hooq.