Bharti Airtel sells 21% stake in Infratel to subsidiary

By:
James Pearce
Published on:

Indian telco retains a 50.33% stake in Bharti Infratel after offloading stake to subsidiary Nettle Infrastructure

Bharti Airtel will transfer a 21.63% stake in mobile tower arm Bharti Infratel to wholly-owned subsidiary Nettle Infrastructure Investments, the Indian operator has announced.

The deal will see around 400 million shares, reducing its own stake down to 50.33%, after 26 March 2017.

The remaining 28.04% share in the tower company belongs to public shareholders, with Airtel opting to hold on to the controlling stake in the company.

Bharti Infratel’s tower base includes more than 90,000 if counting its stake in Indus Towers.

Last week, Airtel’s board of directors said it had decided not to monetise the controlling stake in Infratel for now, preferring instead to sell the share to Nettle.

"....the Board has at its meeting held on March 14, 2017 ...decided not to monetise a controlling stake in Infratel for now," Bharti Airtel said in a regulatory statement, according to the Economic Times.

"Instead, the Board has decided that the company undertake a sale/transfer of upto 400 million Infratel equity shares owned by company which is over and above a controlling stake in Infratel, in such tranche(s), at such time(s) and for such consideration as may be deemed fit to its wholly-owned subsidiary Nettle Infrastructure Investments Limited and/or to any other potential investor(s)," 

It follows an evaluation carried out by a committee of directors that the board launched in October of last year. Airtel was considering options to monetise its tower company.

In 2012, it opened Infratel up to an IPO, and has since been rumoured with further sales. It remains to be seen what Bharti Airtel will do now that it has transferred a significant stake over to Nettle Infra.