News Telecom

Airtel shareholders nods to Google investment in telco


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.