As it aims to take on Reliance Jio and reduce its debt, Airtel, the country’s top mobile telephone operator, has sold 67.53 million shares in its tower subsidiary, Bharti Infratel, for Rs 2,570 crore.
This March, it had sold 10.3 per cent stake in Infratel for Rs 6,190 crore. The latest sale was through wholly owned subsidiary, Nettle Infrastructure Investments, through a secondary share sale, at Rs 380.6 a share.
The proceeds will primarily be for reducing its debt, Rs 87,840 crore at end-June. After this transaction, Bharti Airtel and its wholly owned subsidiaries together have equity holding of 58 per cent in Bharti Infratel.
Airtel said the allocation was done to global tower company investors, fund managers and long-only funds, including many repeat investors. UBS and J P Morgan were joint placement agents.
Faced with immense competition since the entry of Reliance Jio, it has been taking measures to retain customers. It has cut service rates and offering free data service through various schemes. As a result, it has seen a fall in voice and data realisations, though usage of both voice has grown.