Bharti may merge telecom operations

Dylan Bushell-Embling
28 Jun 2011

India's Bharti Airtel is considering a restructuring that could result in the company merging its disparate telecom operations.

The operator, India's largest by subscribers, is thought to be looking to combine its mobile, broadband, fixed line and satellite TV operations, FT.comreported.

Analysts expect a restructuring to concentrate on reducing costs and improving convergence in areas including billing and underlying technology.

Bharti would not comment on its plans but told the paper that any restructuring would have a minimal impact on staff.

The expected merger comes as the operator attempts to integrate its new African operations, acquired from Kuwait's Zain in a $10.7 billion deal last year.

Losses at its African units resulted in a 32.6% decline in profit for the year ending in March, but the company still plans to invest an extra $1 billion in the units this year. The company is also in talks with international operators over an infrastructure sharing deal in the continent.

Bharti yesterday revealed it is also spending on expanding its network in Bangladesh, with a goal of covering 72% of the nation's population by December. Airtel Bangladesh recently passed 5 million subscribers.

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