Bharti buys 49% of Qualcomm TD-LTE venture

Dylan Bushell-Embling
telecomasia.net

India's Bharti Airtel has as expected bought into Qualcomm's TD-LTE venture in India, and revealed plans to acquire complete ownership by end-2014.

Bharti has paid $165 million for a 49% stake in the Indian entities Qualcomm set up to hold the spectrum and associated licenses, the companies have revealed.

The deal involved Bharti buying out Qualcomm's existing Indian partners in the venture, Global Holding and Tulip Telecom, which had each owned a 13% stake.

Bharti has acquired the remaining 23% stake via the issue of fresh equity in the Indian entities. The deal stipulates that Bharti will acquire complete control by 2014, subject to the launch of commercial operations, and the fulfilment of certain other terms.

The Indian entities hold broadband wireless access (BWA) licenses in four of India's 22 telecom circles, including Delhi and Mumbai.

Through the deal with Qualcomm, Bharti now has 4G spectrum in eight circles. The company was the first Indian operator to debut TD-LTE services, with a launch in the Kolkata circle last month.

Qualcomm CEO Dr Paul Jacobs said that Bharti joining the venture fulfils a key objective of the company's Indian outing - “to include a strong partner in the Indian venture with the scale, experience and resources to deploy TD-LTE networks.”

For Qualcomm, a stated goal of bidding for Indian BWA spectrum has always been to facilitate TD-LTE adoption in the nation.

The company won the BWA licenses with a 49.13 billion rupees ($884.43 million) bid during the 2010 auction, and last month finally received the spectrum after a delayed application process.

Bharti had been reported to be interested in buying into the venture since last month. The deal follows the rumored model of Qualcomm exiting the 4G venture progressively through share dilution.

 

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