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SINGAPORE Telecommunications (SingTel) is increasing its stake in the country’s largest telecom company, by both revenues and customers, Bharti Airtel by 1.52%. SingTel will pay up to Rs 3,008.4 crore in three installments over an 18-month period for this additional stake, which will take its total holdings in Bharti Airtel to 31.95%.

   The Singapore-based telco currently holds 30.43% stake in Bharti Airtel. While SingTel holds a 15.57% direct stake in Bharti Airtel, the rest of its holdings is routed through Bharti Telecom. A SingTel arm called Pastel has a 32.81% stake in Bharti Telecom, which holds a 45.3% stake in Bharti Airtel.

   In its communication to the Singapore Stock Exchange, SingTel said that its arm Pastel had entered into an agreement with Bharti Telecom to buy an additional 7, 30,000 issued shares of the company. “The acquisition is in line with SingTel’s strategic focus on maximising the value of its existing businesses,” SingTel’s communication added.

   Following the completion of this transaction, Pastel’s holdings in Bharti Telecom will increase to 36.16%. Pastel will pay between Rs 1,807.3 crore to Rs 3,008.4 crore for this stake, but the final price will depend on the market price of Airtel during this period.

   SingTel will make the first part of the payment of Rs 240 crore on November 12 or on another date that has been agreed upon by both companies. The second tranche of about around Rs 1,567.3 crore and the third part of not more than Rs 1,2011.1 crore will be paid after 365 days and 540 days, respectively, from the date of making the first payment.

   This implies, SingTel has valued Bharti between Rs 1, 18,901 crore and Rs 1, 97,921 crore. Bharti Airtel did not comment on the stake sale. As of October 30, Bharti’s market valuation was at Rs 1, 10,925 crore.

   Bharti Airtel’s shares have seen a slide at the BSE due to increased competition and pressure on its bottom line. It touched its 52-week low on October 30, 2009 at Rs 290.30 a share of Rs 5 face value.

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