As MTN Nigeria gets set to launch an IPO later this year, Bharti Airtel is also considering making an IPO for its Africa operations. Bharti Airtel International Netherlands BV (BAIN BV), with its headquarters in the Netherlands, is the holding company controlling its African operations.
Bharti Airtel operates in 14 African countries. The company began considering the IPO by mid-February. In fact, Airtel Chairman, Sunil Bharti Mitta wants the IPO to revamp operations in Africa and ensure profitability.
However, the listing may not be as significant as one would expect. Bharti Airtel is not looking to give up control of the company. Rather it is looking to sell only a minority stake in its Africa holdings as a way to shore up its revenue base. In fact, Mr. Mittal had said:
It will remain a Bharti subsidiary. That means we are staying (in Africa).
Yet, it is undecided on where to list the company. And it is yet to enlist the services of investment banks to guide the process. In its exchange fillings, Bharti Airtel said:
It has authorised its management to initiate non-binding exploratory discussions with various banks/intermediaries to evaluate the possibility/feasibility of listing its shares on an international stock exchange.
Notwithstanding, Airtel’s Vice Chairman, Mr Akhil Gupta, shared that London was a potentially good venue; but would rely on advice from the banks before reaching a decision.
With 35 million subscribers, Airtel is the third largest telecom in Nigeria. Recently, in order to get a better grip on the Nigeria, the company tried to buy rival 9Mobile, but it pulled out of that process due lack of transparency and possible financial reasons.
Historically though, the telcom company has not had it good on the African continent in the last 3 years. Still, its fortunes turned the corner positively in recent times, thanks to a surge in data traffic and increase in Airtel Money, its mobile money service (Airtel Money).
Airtel is hoping that this IPO would help it gain more revenue for operational efficiency.
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