India’s Airtel raises $403m from tower unit stake sale

Airtel sold a minority stake in the telecom tower business to private investors after divesting 10.3 percent to KKR and CPPIB in March.

Bharti Airtel, India’s largest telecom company, has raised 25.7 billion rupees ($403 million; €343 million) by selling a minority stake in telecom tower business Bharti Infratel in the Indian stock markets.  

Airtel has sold 67.53 million shares, equal to a 3.65 percent stake, in Infratel through a secondary share sale in India’s National Stock Exchange and Bombay Stock Exchange at a price of 380.6 rupees per share. The price represented a discount of around 4 percent relative to the previous day’s closing price, Airtel noted. 

The telecom company said the shares were sold to “global tower company investors, fund managers and long-only funds,” many of which are existing investors. In March, Airtel sold a 10.3 percent stake in Infratel to a consortium of funds managed by KKR and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board for around $953 million. 

As the transaction completes, Airtel and its wholly owned subsidiaries have an equity holding of 58 percent in Infratel. Proceeds from the sale will be used to repay Airtel’s debt. 

Infratel owns a portfolio of over 90,000 telecom towers, including over 38,000 of its own towers, with the balance coming from its 42 percent stake in Indus Towers, the country’s largest telecom tower company. Vodafone India and Aditya Birla, two shareholders of Indus Tower, are looking to exit their investments in the tower business.