Bharti to acquire 49% stake in Qualcomm’s Indian wireless operations

Bharti to acquire 49% stake in Qualcomm’s Indian wireless operations

Indian carrier Bharti airtel has entered into an agreement to acquire a 49% stake in Qualcomm’s Indian broadband wireless access business for $165 million.

The carrier will acquire a 26% stake in the company from local partners Global Holding Corporation and Tulip Telecom, with the remaining 23% coming from fresh equity of Qualcomm.

Through the agreement, Bharti will acquire Qualcomm’s 4G licences in India within the regions of Delhi, Mumbai, Haryana and Kerala.

The terms of the deal also state that, subject to certain conditions, once Bharti has launched commercial operations, it will assume full ownership and financial responsibility of the company with the purchase of the remaining 51% stake by 2014.

Qualcomm won the 4G licences at auction in June 2010, paying approximately $1 billion. Due to a dispute with India’s telecoms ministry the company only received its 4G licences this month, with the ministry cutting their usage period by 18 months.

The procurement of the licences is expected to allow Bharti to launch services ahead of the competition in the new zones, having already been the first carrier to launch 4G services in India.

Bharti’s rival, Reliance Industries, holds 4G licences in all 22 of India’s telecoms zones and is expected to launch 4G services by the end of the year under its Infotel Broadband subsidiary.

Bharti launched LTE services in Kolkata at the beginning of April and has since rolled out services in Bangalore. The carrier already holds licences in Punjab, Maharashtra, Kolkata and Karnataka.

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