Indian market leader Bharti Airtel has sold another stake in its tower unit Infratel to a consortium of investors.
The sale of the 3.65% stake in Infratel has generated nearly INR25.7 billion ($403 million) for its parent firm, with Airtel selling 67.53 million shares in the tower unit at INR380.60 per share.
The operator leads the Indian mobile market with a 23% market share, but is burdened by massive debts which it aims to alleviate through its divestment of Infratel holdings. Following the sale of this stake, Airtel and its wholly owned subsidiaries have an interest of 58% in Infratel.
Airtel needs to finance a nationwide 4G network in order to compete effectively with newcomer Reliance Jio, which has been offering 4G since September 2016. Jio’s opening promotions of free voice and data services attracted over 100 million subscribers within months, instigating a ‘race to the bottom’ price war among its rivals.
In March, a consortium of investors including private equity firm KKR and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board acquired a 10.3% stake in Infratel for INR61.9 billion ($952 million). Some of the investors involved in this previous deal are reportedly also involved in the most recent sale.