Bharti Airtel splits Indian business into four units in major reorganisation

Sunil Bharti Mittal.jpg

Telecoms giant Bharti Airtel, which owns mobile operations in Africa as well as India and Sri Lanka, is to split its business into four separate units.

Operations such as Airtel Africa, Bharti Airtel Lanka in Sri Lanka, and Indus Towers in India will continue to operate as separate entities, as will — for now — the group’s Indian direct-to-home (DTH) satellite business, Bharti Telemedia.

Sunil Bharti Mittal (pictured), chairman of Bharti Airtel, said: “The new structure sets the exciting future course for Bharti Airtel and puts focus on four distinct businesses — digital, India, international and infra, each in a razor-sharp way.”

The company has set up a new subsidiary, simply called Airtel, as a home for all its Indian telecoms business. Airtel Digital’s interests, including Airtel IQ, Airtel Secure and Airtel Cloud, have moved to the parent company. Eventually Bharti Telemedia will move into the Airtel unit.

Observers in India say that the new structure separates regulated entities from non-regulated businesses.

“We believe this will provide agility, expertise and operational rigour to serve our customers brilliantly while providing flexibility to unlock value for our shareholders,” said Mittal of the Bharti Airtel reorganisation.

The holding company, Bharti Airtel, will retain control of Airtel Payments Bank, said the company this week.

According to a detailed breakdown by Bloomberg Quint, the international business of Bharti Airtel will include Airtel Africa, subsea cable unit Network i2i, Bharti Airtel Lanka and Robi Axiata in Bangladesh.

The infrastructure division will hold data centre unit Nextra Data and Indus Towers, as well as future infrastructure assets.

Mittal is also executive chairman of OneWeb, in which the group invested US$500 million last year. The OneWeb stake remains inside the overall Bharti operation, and is not affected by the reorganisation. Capacity's interview with Mittal about OneWeb is here

The main holding company, Bharti, also includes gems such as the Hoxton hotel business, which has expanded well outside its birthplace in the east end of London to places such as Amsterdam, Chicago and Paris, and the Gleneagles golf resort in Scotland.