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IN WHAT could be India’s largest private equity deal, the Singapore government’s investment arm—Temasek Holdings—will indirectly acquire 4.99% stake in Bharti Airtel as part of separate but possibly back-to-back transactions that will also see Vodafone selling 5.6% in the country’s largest private telecom company. The net impact of these transactions will be that the shareholding of Bharti Enterprises, the holding company of Bharti Airtel, will remain at 45% while the Temasek-Singapore Telecom combine’s holding (Temasek is the largest shareholder in Singtel) will rise to 36%.

While Bharti executives refused to divulge the deal size and when the Temasek deal will happen, at current market price, it is worth a little over Rs 8,198 crore (about $2 billion). Bharti and Vodafone had announced that the latter will sell 5.6% in Bharti Airtel for $1.6 billion in two tranches before November 2008.

Bharti announced that a group company has “decided to grant an option” to acquire an indirect stake in Bharti Airtel to a wholly owned arm of Temasek Holdings. “The arrangement envisages acquisition of such number of shares which will result in a beneficial stake in Bharti Airtel up to 4.99%.”

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