Airtel considering sale of 25% stake in African division

4 May 2018

Indian telecoms group Bharti Airtel is planning to raise between USD1 billion and USD1.5 billion by diluting around a quarter of its stake in Bharti Airtel International (Netherlands), the Netherlands-based holding company for Airtel’s African operations, the Economic Times writes, citing people with knowledge of the matter. The listing is expected to take place in early 2019 on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

Airtel’s African division, representing subsidiaries in 14 markets, posted its first annual profit in March 2018, recording net profit of INR18.3 billion (USD274 million) for the year, compared to a net loss of INR17.1 billion in the year to end-March 2017. By contrast, meanwhile, the performance of Airtel’s domestic unit has been negatively impacted by regulatory decisions and the continuing price war with new entrant Reliance Jio Infocomm. As a result, Airtel booked a net loss of INR4.5 billion in India, compared to a net profit of INR54.4 billion a year earlier. On a consolidated basis, growth in Africa offset the decline in India, reversing the trend of previous years which had seen success in India had made up for lacklustre results in other regions.

Regarding the listing, the paper cites the sources as saying that the proceeds could be used to deleverage Airtel’s balance sheet – net debt stood at more than INR950 billion at end-March 2018 – or as ‘ammunition’ to continue fighting price wars in India.

India, Airtel Africa, Bharti Airtel