Bharti Airtel on Thursday decided to sell its 32 per cent stake in tower firm Bharti Infratel, which will reduce its stake in the latter to 18.33 per cent from 50.33 per cent. At Bharti Infratel’s closing price of Rs 261 a share on BSE on Thursday, Bharti Airtel can net around Rs 15,450 crore by selling the 32 per cent stake. If the enterprise valuation of Infratel (post reverse merger of Indus Towers into it) at around $15 billion is taken into account, Bharti Airtel can generate around Rs 37,000 crore from its stake sale.
The Bharti Airtel board, which met on Thursday, approved the sale/transfer of up to 591.87 million equity shares which translates into 32 per cent stake it holds in Bharti Infratel to its wholly-owned arm Nettle Infrastructure Investments. The move is to explore monetisation of its stake in Infratel in tranches as when the shareholders approve.
The company also named Badal Bagri as its new CFO, who will replace global CFO Nilanjan Roy.
Separately, the board appointed a special committee of directors to comprehensively explore evaluate various options of fund-raising for the company to strengthen its capital structure and balance sheet and place the final recommendation before the Board for its approval.
For the last two years, Bharti Airtel has been raising funds by reducing its stake in its tower firm to reduce its debt and face the competitive pressures unleashed by Reliance Jio. The company has so far raised around Rs 12,000 crore through such stake dilutions. In March when its non-listed tower unit, Indus Towers was reverse merged into Infratel, the company had said that it will sell a much larger stake to raise funds.
Bharti Airtel has a net consolidated debt of Rs 1,14,557 crore, of which the Indian operation’s borrowings amount to around Rs 80,000 crore. Recently, the company’s Africa unit raised $1.5 billion in pre-IPO placement from Warbug Pincus and SoftBank which reduced its $5 billion Africa debt to $3.7 billion. It plans to raise a similar amount through an IPO of the Africa unit.
On Thursday, Bharti Airtel shares fell around 2 per cent to close at Rs 316.15 on BSE. —FE