Telecom major Bharti Airtel has sought permission from the Union government to increase the foreign equity holding in the company.
Bharti Telecom, promoter of Bharti Airtel, could then seek equity from its existing promoter group (which might include its overseas entities) and Singapore-based SingTel, in proportion to their holding.
Currently, Singtel owns around 35 per cent in Airtel; chairman Sunil Mittal and his family hold around 27 per cent.
Bharti Airtel has applied for foreign investment up to 100 per cent, to keep further room for investments by foreign institutional investors or foreign portfolio investors as well, the company said in a regulatory filing.
Even a marginal increase in foreign equity would take the foreign investment in Bharti Telecom above 50 per cent, formally making it a foreign-owned entity. Once that happens, Bharti Telecom's entire stake in Bharti Airtel Ltd will automatically be considered a foreign investment.
For the April-June period, Bharti Airtel reported its first quarterly net loss in over a decade, at Rs 2,866 crore. Battered mainly by stiff competition from Reliance Jio, besides depreciation of its third-generation technology (3G) network equipment and operating costs on network refarming.
However, its average revenue per user (Arpu) was the industry's best at Rs 129 for the quarter, on a subscriber base of 320 million. Also, it r\etained its top spot in terms of revenue, up 2.8 per cent to Rs 15,345 crore. Vodafone Idea's revenue was Rs 11,270 crore; Jio's Rs 11,679 crore.
Airtel's India revenue is an integrated number, comprising wireless, landline and broadband services.
During the quarter, the first one of the current financial year, Airtel's mobile revenue saw year-on-year growth of 3.7 per cent. Mobile 4G data customers increased by 63.3 per cent to 95.2 million from the corresponding quarter last year.
Airtel’s continued India-mobile growth was the highlight of its results, led by a five per cent sequential rise in Arpu, said CLSA analysts.
The company has said it would shut down its 3G network across the country by December, in favour of more efficient technology. It has experimented with this in Kolkata.