Singtel announced plans to invest INR26.5 billion ($413 million, or the equivalent of SGD555.6 million) to increase its interest in Bharti Airtel by 0.9 percentage points to 39.5 per cent.
Through a proposed preferential allotment, Singtel said its wholly-owned subsidiary Singtel International Investments will be allotted up to 85,450,000 new shares in Bharti Telecom at an issue price of INR310 per share. This will increase Singtel’s stake in Bharti Telecom by 1.7 per cent: Bharti Telecom is the holding company of Airtel and holds 50.1 per cent of the capital in the operator.
The allotment is subject to approval by Bharti Telecom’s shareholders, with completion expected by March.
Airtel is the largest mobile operator in India with a 24 per cent market share and operations in 16 countries across Africa and South Asia.
Arthur Lang, CEO of Singtel International, said: “This is a good opportunity for us to deepen our strategic partnership with Airtel. While there are currently headwinds in India, we take a long-term view of our investment in Airtel which continues to be a strong market leader in a region with rapidly increasing smartphone penetration and mobile data adoption.”
Singapore-based Singtel also holds investments in Optus (Australia), Telkomsel (Indonesia), Globe Telecom (the Philippines) and AIS (Thailand).
A continuing data price war in India driven by Reliance Jio’s heavy data and voice discounts weighed on Bharti Airtel and its rivals’ performance.
Airtel reported continued weakness in its fiscal Q3 (calendar Q4 2017), as its net profit fell 39.3 per cent year-on-year to INR3.06 billion, with revenue dropping 12.9 per cent to INR203 billion. The profit decline marks the seventh consecutive quarterly fall.