The Bharti Group has bought back a 4.99% stake in Bharti Airtel from UK-based Vodafone for USD1.43 billion. The purchase takes Bharti’s voting interest in the cellco to just over 50%. However, the Bharti Group’s economic interest in Airtel will shortly fall to a little over 45%, as it has given Singapore’s Temasek the option of picking up a 4.99% indirect stake in the cellco.
After acquiring a controlling stake in Bharti’s rival Hutchison Essar in February, Vodafone had announced its agreement with Bharti to sell back its 5.6% direct stake in Bharti Airtel for USD1.6 billion. Following the most recent stake sale, Vodafone still has a 0.61% direct stake in Bharti Airtel. A Bharti spokesperson said the remaining direct stake can be bought back any time within the next 15 months.