Bharti to buy out Qualcomm’s Indian partners in TD-LTE venture

22 May 2012

Bharti Airtel, India’s largest cellco by subscribers, is reportedly involved in advanced talks to buy out the 26% stake in Qualcomm’s Indian wireless broadband start-up currently owned by the US technology giant’s Indian partners. According to Reuters, which cites two sources with direct knowledge of the matter, Bharti will pay more than the USD58 million paid by Tulip and Global Holding in 2010 for the stake. ‘What is planned is that Bharti will make further investments in the company in future and new shares will be issued to them. That automatically dilutes [the] Qualcomm holding,’ the source said. US chipmaker Qualcomm acquired wireless broadband spectrum in four Indian telecoms circles in 2010, but has not yet utilised the USD1 billion 2.3GHz concessions for its proposed Time Division Long Term Evolution (TD-LTE) service launch. Last year it was rumoured that Bharti could pay a total of over USD1 billion for Qualcomm’s licences, although this speculative estimate has fallen; Bloomberg reported last week that an overall price tag of USD928 million was on the table. Airtel launched India’s first 4G TD-LTE network in Calcutta last month, but currently owns 4G licences in only four of India’s 22 circles; entering Qualcomm’s venture would give it 2.3GHz licences covering four additional regions including the prime Delhi and Mumbai markets, to further its ambitions of rolling out nationwide 4G services.

India, Bharti Airtel, Qualcomm (India)