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Airtel shareholders nods to Google investment in telco

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Shareholders of leading telco Bharti Airtel have cleared the issue of equity shares by the company to Google on “a preferential basis” following the US-based tech giant’s recent purchase of a 1.28% stake in the telco for $700 million. They have also backed the telco’s plans to spend a whopping Rs 1.17 lakh-crore in related-party expenses, including opex, via joint venture, Indus Towers, and subsidiaries – Nxtra Data and Bharti Hexacom – over the next 4 years.

“The resolutions (as part of special businesses) were approved with a 99.99% overwhelming majority at Airtel’s extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on February 26,” the Sunil Mittal-led telco said in an exchange filing. In January, Google announced an investment of around $1 billion in Bharti Airtel, out of which $700 would take upto 1.28% stake, while the balance $300 million would be pumped in over the next 5 years into commercial pacts to make smartphones affordable and also jointly develop network domain 5G use cases. This investment would be part of “Google for India Digitization Fund”.

Sources from a senior Executive from Airtel stated that the telco’s Rs 1.17 lakh crore aterial related-party expenses, including opex spends over the next 4 years, would include Rs 88,000 crore in businesses like tower JV, Indus, Rs 15,000 crore for availing the services of data centre arm, Nxtra and related-party transactions of upto Rs 14,000 crore in Bharti Hexacom. It is to be noted that Airtel owns 70% in Bharti Hexacom, which runs mobile services in the state of Rajasthan and
parts of the North East, India.

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