Indian telecoms giant Bharti Airtel it is considering listing its Africa unit on the London Stock Exchange, in a plan that is expected to boost the mobile operators business in the region.
Bharti Airtel earlier this month wrote to the National Stock Exchange of India saying that the board of its Dutch subsidiary, Bharti Airtel International, the holding company for the Africa businesses, had authorised “non-binding exploratory discussion” on the “possibility/feasibility of listing its shares on an internationally recognised stock exchange”.
“The above discussions are at an exploratory/preliminary state and at this juncture, there is no certainty of any final decision or outcome,” the company said in a February 14 letter.
At the Mobile World Congress (MWC) last week, Airtel did not provide much detail on the plans only saying that it was planning to list a minority stake and that London looked like an attractive listing prospect, though it was still in discussions with advisors and had not made any firm decisions, according to the Reuters news agency.
Airtel chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal also urged countries to accept market consolidation as a way for companies to survive in competitive markets while keeping costs down.
While Airtel has denied that it plans to quit unprofitable African markets, the company earlier this year said that it was “open to consolidation opportunities either through acquisitions or mergers, to create a viable business in these three (Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania) markets.”
Bharti Airtel in January said that it had received regulatory approval to acquire Tigo Rwanda Limited, formerly a subsidiary of Milicom International Cellular, creating a company that now has the largest customer base in in Rwanda with 5.9 million subscribers.