Bharti Airtel International (BAIN), a subsidiary of India-based Bharti Airtel which runs the company’s Africa operations, confirmed it was investigating a potential IPO of the business.
Netherlands-based BAIN, which runs wireless and mobile money services in 14 countries across Africa, said in a regulatory filing it would initiate “non-binding exploratory discussions” with various banks and intermediaries to evaluate the feasibility of listing its shares on “an internationally recognised stock exchange.”
It added discussions were at a preliminary stage and no final outcome had been decided. The value of the potential stake to be sold was undisclosed.
The news follows a number of reports in recent months questioning the future of Airtel’s operation in Africa. In December 2017, reports stated Airtel was set to exit three markets deemed unprofitable: Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. While he swiftly denied the rumours, Airtel chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal (pictured) admitted the company’s rushed entry into Africa in 2010 was one of the biggest regrets of his professional life.
In its latest financial statement – covering the three months to end-December – Airtel reported a 5 per cent year-on-year increase in revenue for its Africa business to $783 million.
However, the company still faces issues on the continent. It is currently embroiled in a row with authorities over its Tanzania operation and in January dropped out of the running to acquire troubled Nigerian operator 9mobile.