There was a news report floating on the internet a few days back that informed about a likely stake buyout offer in Bharti Airtel by SoftBank. The Sunil Bharti Mittal led telecom operator has now issued a clarification in the matter saying that it is not looking forward to selling any stake in the company. The previous news report regarding the buying of a stake in Airtel said that SoftBank would acquire this part in the company directly or indirectly. This new report about clarification from Bharti Airtel comes from ET Telecom and says that Airtel has denied the existence of any such proposal about a stake sell-out.
Airtel Not Paying Any Heed to Speculations
The telecom operator, in its notification to the stock exchanges said, “…it is clarified that at this juncture, there is no proposal for sale of a stake in Bharti Airtel, either directly or indirectly.” With this, the telco also added that it did not wish to comment on a speculative piece of news. It is worth noting that only a few days back, reports had surfaced that Bharti Airtel had applied for approval of 100% Foreign Direct Investment as promoter companies under Bharti Airtel and other companies like Singtel could be planning to infuse capital into the Bharti Telecom holding company.
According to the current shareholding, Singtel owns 48% in Bharti Telecom, the rest of the majority stake in the company is held by the Mittals and some of its overseas entity. Bharti Telecom owns about 41% in Airtel. The infusion of equity in Airtel parent company, Bharti Telecom would mean that foreign investments in the company would increase to 85%, this would require the need for government approval. As per the previous ET report on the matter which talked about the government approval required by the company to go through with foreign investment, the move is being made to rub the debt off the books of the holding company, Bharti Telecom.
Bharti Airtel Reclaiming Market Position By Improving Revenue Parameters
In the present situation, the Singapore based telecom company, Singtel owns about 35% in Airtel totally either directly or indirectly through Bharti Telecom. The effective shareholding in Bharti Airtel of the Mittals adds up to about 27%. It is also worth noting that Bharti Airtel is becoming one of the strongest telecom operators in the industry and reclaiming its previous position in the telecom industry. The telecom operator had set the goal of upping its average revenue per user (ARPU), and during the Q1 FY20 results, Airtel noted that it had managed to register an ARPU of Rs 129 which is up from its previous figure of Rs 123. The telco has also announced its plans of becoming a 4G-only network, and it is also ready to phase out its 3G network by 2020. Currently, Airtel boasts of over 280 million subscribers.