Bharti Airtel to purchase a 4.7% stake in Indus Towers

Money bag with indian rupee symbol

Indian MNO Bharti Airtel has said it will snap up a 4.7 percent stake in cell tower firm Indus Towers from Vodafone Idea.

How much Bharti Airtel will pay for the stake was not disclosed, instead the release stated: “The said acquisition purchase would be at an attractive price representing a significant discount typically available for such large block transactions.”

The release goes on to say: “The telecom market structure has started to stabilise on account of the efforts of the Government of India including the recent relief package. We support the Government’s desire to have three private operators to serve the Indian Telecom market which is also in the best interest of Indus Towers. With the likely introduction of 5G in the future, we believe a lot more infrastructure would be required in which Indus Towers, an undisputed leader, has a significant role to play and partake the potential growth in the business.”

In October last year the Indian telecoms regulator TRAI gave Vodafone Idea and Bharti three weeks to come up with 2,000 crore and 1050 crore respectively, which roughly equates to $270 million and $130 million. As we pointed out at the time, Bharti Airtel looked in a far better position to take the hit than Vodafone Idea did.

In January this year it announced that it would be handing over a third of the company to the Indian government in return for deferring the debts for four years – but the debts are not going anywhere so selling off equity seems like a road it has been forced down, and we’d wager there could be more of that to come.

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