Bharti Airtel completes divestment in tower arm

Bharti Airtel Ltd, India's largest mobile telecom operator by subscribers and revenue, has completed the divestment of 67.53 million shares in its subsidiary Bharti Infratel for Rs2,570 crore. The divestment, through a secondary share sale in the stock markets, was made at a price of Rs380.6 a share, representing a discount of about 4 per cent to the previous day's closing price.

The stake sale was done by Nettle Infrastructure Investments Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bharti Airtel. The allocation was done to global tower company investors, fund managers and long only funds, including many repeat investors, the company said in a statement.

Bharti Airtel will primarily use the proceeds from this sale to reduce its debt. Following the closure of this transaction, Bharti Airtel and its wholly owned subsidiaries together have an equity holding of 58 per cent in Bharti Infratel.

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

Prior to the stake sale, Bharti Airtel held a 50.33 per cent stake in the tower company, while Nettle Infrastructure held about 11.32 per cent. The 3.7 per cent stake that would be offloaded is from the portion held by Nettle Infrastructure.

The move by Airtel is an attempt to pare its net debt, which stood at Rs87,840 crore as of June end. In March, a consortium of KKR & Co and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) acquired a 10.3 per cent in Bharti Infratel for about Rs6,193 crore.