Bharti sells stake in tower biz for Rs 3,325 cr to trim debt

MUMBAI, NOVEMBER 14 (PTI): Bharti Airtel said today that it has sold 83 million sharesin its mobile tower subsidiary, Bharti Infratel, for over Rs 3,325 crore via stock market deal and will use the proceeds to pare debts.


The secondary share sale was executed at Rs 400.6 per share, representing 3.6% discount to the previous day’s closing price, Airtel said in a statement.


The buyers included global investors, fund managers and long-only funds, including many repeat investors, it said, adding that the deal was upsized by over 25% given “healthy investor appetite”.


“Bharti Airtel will primarily use the proceeds from this sale to reduce its debt,” the statement added.


The consolidated debt of the Sunil Mittal-owned company was Rs 91,480 crore as on September 2017.


Like other incumbent operators, the country’s largest telecom company has been locked in a fierce tariff war with newcomer Reliance Jio in the mobile telephony market.


After today’s share sale, the stake of Bharti Airtel and its wholly-owned subsidiaries in Bharti Infratel would come down to 53.51%. According to BSE data, the promoters’ holding in the tower infrastructure company stood at 58% as on September 2017.


The sale was carried out by Airtel via its wholly-owned subsidiary, Nettle Infrastructure Investments.


Announcing the “successful divestment” of 83 million shares in Bharti Infratel, the company said: “The sale was for a total consideration of over Rs 3,325 crore (USD 510 million) and was executed at a price of Rs 400.6 per share, representing a discount of 3.6% to the previous day’s closing price.”


JP Morgan, UBS and Goldman Sachs were joint placement agents for the transaction.


Telecom tower companies have been grabbing the headlines over the last few weeks.