Airtel said to buy nearly all of WBSPL

Dylan Bushell-Embling
18 Oct 2013

Indian incumbent Bharti Airtel has reportedly nearly doubled its stake in Wireless Business Services (WBSPL), the company founded by Qualcomm to hold wireless broadband licenses.

Airtel has increased its stake from 51% to 93.45%, Press Trust of Indiasaid, citing sources who have seen a missive from WBSPL to the nation's Department of Telecom.

Airtel bought a 49% stake in Qualcomm's Indian entities for $165 million in May last year, and raised this stake to a majority 51% in July.

Based on the price Airtel paid to buy into the venture, PTI estimates the value of the transaction at about 8.75 billion rupees ($143.1 million).

WBSPL owns 4G licenses and spectrum in four of India's 22 telecom cirlces – New Delhi, Mubai, Haryana and Kerala. Chipmaker Qualcomm acquired the licenses during India's 2010 wireless broadband auction, paying around $1.06 billion. The company later revealed it had bought the spectrum to promote the adoption of TD-LTE in India.

Bharti Airtel separately has 4G licenses covering the circles of Punjab, Maharashtra, Kolkata and Karnataka. and has so far launched TD-LTE services in six cities.

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