Bharti Airtel shareholders approve Telenor deal

James Pearce
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99.98% of Airtel shareholders voted in favour of a deal to buy Telenor's Indian assets

Bharti Airtel has been given the thumbs up by shareholders to complete its acquisition of Telenor’s Indian assets.

The agreement, struck in February, will take Airtel’s combined customer base to around 310 million, whilst also bolstering the operator’s spectrum holdings in seven circles - Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat, UP (East), UP (West) and Assam.

Shareholders representing 99.98% of the shares voted in favour of the resolution, while just 0.02% voted against it, according to a regulatory filing by Bharti Airtel.

The results of the meeting will be presented to NCLT, which will then give its final approval to the deal.

In January it was revealed that Telenor owes nearly $280 million to the Indian government in spectrum fees and nearly $270 million in debt to financial institutions for the business. Telenor did not take part in India’s October 2016 spectrum auctions, a move widely believed to have signalled its intention to leave the country. 

Under the terms of the merger, Airtel will take over outstanding spectrum payments and other operational contracts, including tower leases. That implies that Airtel may be paying only a token price for the Telenor India business. 

In June, Airtel got approval from the Competition Commission of India (CCI), market regulator Sebi and stock exchanges -- BSE and NSE -- for the deal.