Bharti mulls $1b tower unit IPO

Dylan Bushell-Embling
13 Jul 2011

India's Bharti Airtel may put its tower business up for an IPO that would value the division at as much as $10 billion.

The company is believed to be in talks with bankers over an IPO for Bharti Infratel to raise up to $1 billion, according to the Financial Times.

The company last week confirmed rumors it was planning a corporate restructure in India and South Asia, streamlining operations into consumer- and business-facing divisions. A tower IPO could complement the restructuring.

Bharti could also be attempting to use the IPO to raise funds to shore up its African operations, which have been a drag on profits since they were acquired last year for $10.7 billion.

The company has committed a $1 billion investment in the African operations this year.

Bharti Infratel already has outside investors – the company conducted a $1 billion funding round in late 2007, and received an extra $250 million injection from a US private equity firm in 2008.

Bharti rival Reliance had planned to list its own tower business, Reliance Infratel, but later decided on a sale rather than taking the IPO route. Telecom tower firm Viom Networks recently confirmed its interest in taking a stake in the business.

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