Confirmed: Airtel buys out 4G venture

Dylan Bushell-Embling
21 Oct 2013

Two of last week's Asia-Pacific telecom sector rumors have been borne out, including word that Bharti Airtel has bought out Qualcomm's stake in an Indian 4G venture.

Airtel has confirmed reports that it has increased its stake in Wireless Business Services (WBSPL), a company founded by Qualcomm to hold the wireless broadband licenses it acquired in 2010.

But the company disclosed that it has taken 100% ownership of WBPSL – beyond even the 93.45% stake referred to in the rumors.

Airtel acquired a 49% stake in the venture in May 2012 for $165 million, and raised it to a majority 51% in July. The initial investment agreement stipulated that Airtel would raise its stake to 100% by the end of next year.

WBSPL holds 4G airwaves in four circles, including New Delhi and Mumbai, which will complement Airtel's licenses in four other circles. Airtel is offering TD-LTE in six cities. The first of these came online in April 2012.

Separately, Softbank revealed it has agreed to pay $1.26 billion for a 57% stake in US-based handset distributor Brightstar.

Citing a person familiar with the deal, Reutersreports that Softbank is pursuing the acquisition as part of efforts to increase its buying power with and influence over global smartphone manufacturers.

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