Three banks – UBS, JP Morgan and Citibank – will carry out the planned public offer for shares in the holding company of its African business of India’s largest mobile telephone carrier, Bharti Airtel. This is the latest indicator of how much the once loss-making Africa operations of Bharti Airtel have turned around.

Bharti Airtel first announced its intentions to launch an initial public offering in February. The reports said Bharti Airtel plans to list a quarter of the equity of its African subsidiary and raise $1.5 billion by doing so.

Bharti Airtel entered Africa in 2010 when it bought the African assets of a Kuwaiti telecom firm, Zain, for $10 billion. It has been monetising bits and pieces of its African business over the years. It sold over 8,000 mobile phone towers in eight African countries for $ 1.8 billion in 2015-16. It sold off its Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso mobile phone services in 2016.

Bharti Airtel’s Africa operations turned profitable two years ago and have since experienced a health rise in profits. Its Africa profits after tax jumped from $ 57.5 million in the last quarter of 2016-17 to $154.5 million in the quarter ending March. Its customer base has experienced a large jump with mobile data usage nearly doubling and data customers rising from 17 to 25 million.

 

September 25, 2018

About the Author

Pramit Pal Chaudhuri writes on political, security, and economic issues. He previously wrote for the Statesman and the Telegraph in Calcutta. He served on the National Security Advisory Board of the Indian government from 2011-2015. Among other affiliations, he is a member of the Asia Society Global Council, the Aspen Institute Italia, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and the Mont Pelerin Society. Pramit is also a senior associate of Rhodium Group, New York City, advisor to the Bower Group Asia in India, a member of the Council on Emerging Markets, Washington, DC, and a delegate for the Confederation of Indian Industry-Aspen Strategy Group Indo-U.S. Strategic Dialogue and the Ananta Aspen Strategic Dialogues with Japan, China and Israel. Born in 1964, he has visited over fifty countries on five continents. Mr. Pal Chaudhuri is a history graduate from Cornell University.