15 February 2018
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
Indian operator Bharti Airtel is considering selling shares in its African operation, which has 14 operations from Burkina Faso to Zambia.
The company says that discussions are still at an
exploratory stage and adds that there is no certainty about any
conclusion that may be reached.
Bharti Airtel, which is set to be number two in the Indian market, with a 31%
share, when the series of consolidations is complete, has
operated in Africa since 2010, when it bought much of
Zain’s business across the continent for $10.7
The group’s shares are quoted on both the Bombay
Stock Exchange in Mumbai and the National Stock Exchange of
Now the company says, in a stock exchange announcement, that it
"has authorised its management to initiate non-binding
exploratory discussion with various banks/intermediaries to
explore possibility/feasibility of listing of its shares on an
internationally recognised stock exchange".
The division in question is Bharti Airtel International
(Netherlands) (BAIN), the holding company for the African
business, which is registered in Amsterdam. BAIN, incorporated
in 2010 when the group bought the former Zain properties, is a
wholly owned subsidiary of India’s Bharti
It had around 84 million customers in Africa at the end of last
year, compared with 290 million in India and 2.15 million
elsewhere in South Asia. All 14 African countries –
Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and
Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar,
Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania,
Uganda and Zambia – get 3G mobile as well as its
Airtel Money service, and four countries now have 4G.
Bharti Airtel has not named the banks and other intermediaries
it plans to talk to about a possible flotation of Airtel Africa
shares, nor has it said how many shares are likely to be