Qatari investor selling $1.5 billion stake in Bharti Airtel

Nov 08, 2017

A Qatari investor is selling a 5 percent stake in top Indian telecoms carrier Bharti Airtel on Wednesday for about 95 billion rupees ($1.46 billion), adding to the sanctions-hit Gulf nation's recent stake sales in foreign companies.

Three Pillars Pte Ltd, an affiliate of the Qatar Foundation, has put up for sale through stock market transactions about 199.9 million shares in Bharti Airtel in a price range of 473-490 rupees each, according to a deal term sheet seen by Reuters.

The price range indicates a discount of 4.7-8 percent to Bharti Airtel's Tuesday closing price, but is higher than the 340 rupees Three Pillars paid for the shares in 2013.

Bharti Airtel shares fell almost 6 percent on Wednesday as more than 243 million shares changed hands in multiple block deals, Thomson Reuters data showed. The plan for the stake sale was reported after market close on Tuesday.

The sale comes at a time when other Qatari firms, including its sovereign wealth fund, are cutting stakes in foreign companies to raise cash and withstand pressure on the economy, which has been hit by sanctions imposed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt since early June. The Gulf countries cut diplomatic and transport ties with Doha on June 5, accusing it of backing terrorism, a charge which Doha denies.

Qatar's sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, has responded to the crisis by pumping billions of dollars into local banks to shore up their deposits. It has also reduced its stake in upscale jeweler Tiffany & Co (TIF.N), Russian energy giant Rosneft (ROSN.MM) and Swiss bank Credit Suisse (CSGN.S).

A spokesman for the Bharti Group declined to comment on the Qatar stake sale. Rashed Fahad Al-Noaimi, CEO of investments at Qatar Foundation, is on Bharti Airtel's board. UBS is the handling the planned share sale.

Even with Wednesday's drop, Bharti Airtel shares are up about 60 percent in 2017 on signs of an end to a bruising price war in the Indian telecoms space and hopes that industry consolidation would benefit established players.

 

- Reuters

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