Google has invested in Bharti Airtel via preferential issue, thus confirming a CNBC-TV18 news break. The Bharti Airtel board approved the issuance of shares to Google on Friday and according to the deal, Bharti Airtel will issue 7.1 crore shares to Google at Rs 734 per share.
This will translate to shares worth Rs 5,224.4 crore ($700 million approximately) on a preferential basis to Google for a 1.28 percent stake.
According to the tie-up release, Google will invest up to $1 billion for India Digitisation Fund. The deal includes an investment of up to $300 million for potential multi-year commercial agreements.
The partnership also aims at enabling affordable access to smartphones in the country. Two companies will work with device manufacturers to bring down the barriers of owning a smartphone across a range of price points, according to the release.
The Bharti Airtel stock saw a sharp uptick after the news was confirmed and is up 1.6 percent at the time of publishing. In the past six months, the stock is up close to 30 percent.
Nitin Soni, Senior Director-Corporates, Fitch Ratings expects Bharti Airtel to use this money to pay down some of its debt.
"The net leverage excluding deferred spectrum liabilities will come down below 1.5 times. We are pleasantly surprised that the company which has already raised USD 2.8 billion of equity last year, of its only 25 percent was called and on top of it they have now raised another USD 700 million. So it’s positive in terms of the balance sheet,” he said.
Tarun Pathak, Director, Counterpoint Research spoke about the scope of the smartphone market to grow in India.
“In India, we still have like 570 million unique smartphone users in a country of 1.3 billion. So there is still a lot of room for growth when it comes to smartphone penetration, he said.
"We need to see what are the hardware partners that Airtel will bring along if this goes along in terms of the smartphone,” he added.
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