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Bharti Airtel and Warburg Pincus on Tuesday announced that an affiliate of the global private equity company will acquire up to a 20 per cent stake in Bharti Telemedia, the direct-to-home (DTH) arm of Bharti Airtel, for about $350 million. Out of this, the telecom service provider will sell a 15 per cent stake and another Bharti entity the remaining 5 per cent. After completion of the deal, Airtel will own 80 per cent equity in Bharti Telemedia, which is one of the largest DTH television (TV) service providers.
It had 14 million subscribers and approximately $550 million in revenues as on September 30, 2017.Bharti Airtel Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Gopal Vittal said, “Airtel has enjoyed a very successful partnership with Warburg Pincus in the past and we are excited to partner with them once again to achieve our vision of making Airtel TV India’s leading DTH platform.” The Airtel board has approved the transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals. As part of the transaction, Warburg Pincus India Managing Director Viraj Sawhney will join the board of Bharti Telemedia. Vishal Mahadevia, managing director and co-head of Warburg Pincus India, said, “The Indian digital TV market is expanding rapidly and we believe that Airtel DTH is well positioned to capitalise on incremental growth in digitisation and penetration in Tier-III and -IV towns.” Airtel TV, which was launched in 2008, has a strong distribution centre with over 1,500 partners and 158,000 recharge outlets in 630 Indian districts. Airtel also announced the launch of 4G services in Dras, Kargil and Leh in the Ladakh region, saying that it has become the first operator to provide high-speed data services in the area. (Click here for more details)