Singapore Telecommunications said Thursday it has agreed to sell 3.3% of Indian mobile carrier Airtel to Bharti Telecom—Singtel’s joint venture with billionaire Sunil Mittal’s Bharti Enterprises—for S$2.25 billion ($1.6 billion).
The transaction, which will result in a net gain of S$600 million for Singtel, comes as the Southeast Asian telecom giant seeks to raise funds from divestments to fund the roll out of its 5G network. Last month, Singtel agreed to sell digital advertising platform Amobee for $239 million, and is reportedly also looking to offload its cybersecurity unit Trustwave Holdings.
“With this transaction, we will raise over S$2 billion which will help to fully meet the group’s needs for 5G and growth initiatives in the next few years,” Arthur Lang, Singtel chief financial officer, said in a statement. Following the sale, Singtel’s stake in Airtel will be reduced to 29.7%, which is estimated be worth S$22 billion.
Since Singtel first investment in Airtel in 2000, the Indian company has grown to become the second-largest carrier in India where it’s competing with billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio. Competition is set to intensify in the country as Gautam Adani, Asia’s wealthiest businessman, seeks to enter the market.
“With a more sustainable market structure after industry reforms and exciting new growth opportunities emerging from the government’s Digital India vision, we expect Airtel to become a significant contributor to Singtel,” Lang said “We remain committed long-term investors, having invested approximately S$1.3 billion in Airtel over the last three years.”