Monday, 18 October 2021

Bharti Airtel schedules $2.8 billion share sale

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Friday 24 September 21

The operator will use the funds to reduce its debt and prepare for the widepsread rollout of 5G technology

At the end of August, Indian mobile operator Bharti Airtel announced that it would be seeking to raise 210 billion rupees ($2.87 billion) through a sale of shares to existing shareholders.    Now, the operator has announced a schedule for the sale, with shareholder eligibility to participate to be decided by September 28 and the subscription period itself to run from October 5 to October 21…

At the end of August, Indian mobile operator Bharti Airtel announced that it would be seeking to raise 210 billion rupees ($2.87 billion) through a sale of shares to existing shareholders. 
 
Now, the operator has announced a schedule for the sale, with shareholder eligibility to participate to be decided by September 28 and the subscription period itself to run from October 5 to October 21.
 
The company will issue 392.29 billion shares at a fixed price of 535 rupees ($7.25) per share. Eligible shareholders will be able to receive one share for every 14 shares they currently hold.
 
The company founders, including the Mittal family and Singapore’s Singtel, have already announced that they will collectively subscribe to the full extent of their rights entitlement. These founders currently hold around 56% of the company’s shares, meaning around $1.6 billion should be raised at the very least as a result of this process.
 
A large part of the motivation to raise these funds is the upcoming rollout of 5G mobile technology across the country. Airtel has complained in the past about the price of 5G spectrum suggested by the regulator, but nonetheless wants to participate in the auction process, which is now estimated to take place in February next year. 
 
Beyond the expensive spectrum itself, Airtel will need funds to rapidly rollout the new technology around the country, especially if it is to compete with the much more financially secure Reliance Jio.
 
Another factor is the potential collapse of Vodafone Idea. Airtel and Jio have both gained subscribers in recent months due to Idea’s financial woes, which could see the company liquidate in the near future. If this were to happen, Airtel would need to be in a stronger financial position to try to accommodate the additional subscribers switching over from Idea’s network. 
 
 
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