Bharti Airtel may conclude Qualcomm stake sales in two weeks

Bharti Airtel, India's largest mobile phone operator by subscribers, is in advanced talks to buy out stake held by the Indian partners in US-based Qualcomm broadband venture for about Rs5,000 crore and is expected to concluded in the next two weeks.

The deal will give Bharti access to four telecoms zones, including the lucrative Delhi and Mumbai cities, where it does not have its own 4G airwaves, according to various media reports.

Under the deal Bharti Airtel may purchase the unit in installments over two years. Bharti would initially purchase a 26 per cent stake in the unit, which is jointly held by Tulip Telecom Ltd and Global Holding Corp (GHC), while Qualcomm will own 51 percent of the division for the next two years.

Bharti, which won 4G airwaves in just four of India's 22 telecoms zones, has said it would like to have a nationwide 4G broadband network. The company recently launched commercial 4G networks in Kolkata and Bangalore cities.

Qualcomm, the biggest maker of mobile-phone chips, bought 4G (fourth generation) licenses in June 2010, which was then acquired by Tulip Telecom and GHC for Rs 140 crore each. The Indian companies own 13 percent each, while the remaining is held by Qualcomm's Indian unit.

Reliance Industries is the only other company to have 4G airwaves in all 22 telecoms zones in India. Reliance is yet to start commercial services.

In 2010, NASDAQ-listed Qualcomm has roped in GHC and Tulip Telecom Ltd as partners for its plans to offer wireless broadband services in India. This will help the U.S.-based mobile phone chipmaker foray into the country's evolving wireless broadband segment and emerging next generation Long-Term Evolution technology.

GHC is the holding company of two telecom infrastructure firms GTL Ltd and GTL Infrastructure Ltd. Tulip Telecom is an enterprise data connectivity service provider and such as telecom, banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI), retail, education, health care and government.