Bharti Airtel’s board of directors will hold a meeting next week to consider raising funds through debt, as it seeks to stave off increased competition by improving its 4G network.
In a regulatory filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), Airtel said its board would meet on 12 March 2018 to consider plans to “opportunistically raise funds including issuance of secured/unsecured listed/unlisted, non-convertible debentures, bonds or such other similar debt instruments either denominated in Indian rupees or foreign currency”.
Should Airtel go through with its plan, it will represent the company’s latest move to raise funds and boost 4G networks as it looks to keep pace with India’s newest operator Reliance Jio.
Over the past year, Airtel freed up capital and lowered debt by reducing its stake in tower unit Bharti Infratel, of which it still owns 53.5 per cent. The Economic Times reported the company indicated it may look to sell a bigger stake in Infratel, although it is unclear whether the forthcoming meeting regarding funding may impact the plan.
In addition to divesting a stake in its tower unit, Airtel also managed to raise funds after Singtel, its largest single shareholder, invested INR26.5 billion ($413 million) to raise its stake in the Indian operator.
At this stage, it is unclear how much Airtel is aiming to raise from its latest funding plan.