Airtel Receives Green Signal from Government to Reduce 15% Stake in DTH Arm

Bharti Airtel’s DTH arm, Bharti Telemedia has revealed in a regulatory filing that it has received government’s nod for transferring 15% stake to private equity firm Warburg Pincus. “The said approval has been granted by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting,” Airtel said in a regulatory filing, as reported by PTI. The deal was announced back in December 2017 but was halted due to some FDI requirements from the government. Earlier today, we reported that Airtel received Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) clearance from the government for the transfer of 15% stake to an affiliate of Warburg Pincus.

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“…Bharti Telemedia Limited, a subsidiary of the company, has been granted the approval dated August 28, 2018, from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting for transfer of its 15% stake to an affiliate of Warburg Pincus,” Bharti Airtel said.

Under the deal announced in December 2017, Bharti Airtel had said it plans to sell 20% stake in its DTH arm Bharti Telemedia to an affiliate of Warburg Pincus for about USD 350 million. Of the 20%, Bharti Airtel would sell its 15% stake in the direct-to-home arm and the balance will be sold by another Bharti entity which holds 5% stake in the company.

Sources aware of the approval explained that while the filing only pertained to offloading of 15% stake by the listed entity Bharti Airtel, the entire deal has received a clearance including sale by separate Bharti entity.

In other news, Reliance Jio has announced that it will step into the DTH sector by offering a set-top box for TVs with its upcoming high-speed wired broadband service- Jio GigaFiber. Jio will be bundling Jio GigaTV with its GigaFiber service for free to heat up the competition.

Market watchers have said that Jio’s aggressive offerings will pose a “serious competition” to TV distributors on both the Direct-to-home (DTH) and cable side, putting further pressure on falling average revenue per user.

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