Bharti Airtel to list Africa wing on overseas bourses
By Express News Service | Published: 15th February 2018 02:44 AM |
NEW DELHI: With its Africa business showing steady growth, Indian telecom major Bharti Airtel is mulling listing its Africa wing on overseas stock markets. According to a stock exchange filing, the Sunil Mittal-led firm is already discussing the feasibility of listing Bharti Airtel International (Netherlands) BV (BAIN), which controls the group’s African operations.
“The board of directors of BAIN BV on February 12 has authorised its management to initiate non-binding exploratory discussions with various banks/intermediaries to explore the possibility/feasibility of listing of its shares on an internationally recognised stock exchange,” said Bharti Airtel.
However, Airtel also added that the discussions were of an exploratory nature and there was no certainty over their outcome.
While the Indian telecom sector has seen a stormy few quarters in the recent past, Airtel’s Africa operations have been one of the more profitable of its ventures. Bharti Airtel currently operates in 14 African countries with all operations managed by BAIN. Airtel’s Africa operations have reported consistent profits over the past few quarters, with net income for Africa for the quarter ended December standing at $76 million against a loss of $93 million in the corresponding quarter last year.
Africa revenues had also grown by 5.3 per cent to $783 million, riding the rise in data penetration and Airtel Money services in the markets. As of end of 2017, Airtel had 84.13 million customers in Africa.
While the positive numbers come in the wake of substantial investment by Airtel in the African markets, the company has begun strategic de-leveraging in the continent over the past three years, when it sold 10,540 towers in 10 countries and its operations in Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone for $3.25 billion.
Analysts say the move could work out to be beneficial for the firm, with the company set to improve the ratio of enterprise value to Ebitda. With the Africa wing now profitable, the firm could expect better valuations through an IPO, a senior analyst said.