Mobile phone services provider Bharti Airtel, which is struggling to stay afloat in India’s below-cost tariff environment, may finally get a much-needed capital infusion. As part of its rights issue of 250 billion rupees (US$3.57 billion), the promoters of the group have renounced its right for shares worth 50 billion rupees ($713 million, or around a 5% stake) in favor of the Singaporean government’s investment arm GIC, which will be investing this amount.
With this the promoter group’s stake in Bharti Airtel will come down to around 62% from the current 67%. The promoter group comprises Bharti Group, Bharti Telecom and Singapore Telecommunications (Singtel).
Bharti Telecom holds a 51% stake in Bharti Airtel. Within the Bharti Telecom stake, 51% is held by company promoter Sunil Bharti Mittal and family and 49% by Singtel. The effective interest of the Bharti family in Bharti Airtel is around 27% while that of Singtel is 39%.
The company’s rights issue price has been set at 220 rupees per fully paid equity share and the promoter group would subscribe to 117.85 billion rupees in it. This will be one of the largest such exercises by an Indian company. After its completion, Singtel’s stake will come down to 35% from 39%.
Once the proposed rights issue is completed, it will allow Bharti Airtel to reduce debt and improve its liquidity in order to take on the competition posed by Reliance Jio.
Apart from the rights issue, Bharti Airtel also plans to raise 70 billion rupees via an offshore bond offering.
For GIC this will be its third-largest investment in an Indian company after it struck deals with real-estate developer DLF (US$1.4 billion) and mortgage lender HDFC ($800 million).
Established in 1982, GIC is the Singaporean government’s sovereign wealth fund to manage its foreign reserves.