By Denis Turyahebwa
Airtel Africa, a subsidiary of India’s Bharti Airtel, has sold a stake worth Shs4.7 trillion as it seeks to raise money to pay off debts.
The money, which was raised through a primary equity issuance, will reduce the telecom’s existing debt as well as grow Airtel Africa’s operations.
Airtel Africa currently holds about $5b (Shs18.8 trillion) in debt. Bharti Airtel, India’s largest telecommunications operator acquired Zain Africa operations in 2008 at $10.7b.
The telecom, in a press statement, also indicated it would list on an international stock exchange to mobilise money to cut back on its debt.
Mr Raghunath Mandava, the Airtel Africa managing director, said the transaction will boost the telecom’s capacity to upgrade networks, expand coverage in different markets as well as achieving rapid growth of Airtel Money across its operations.
“This clearly underlines the confidence of leading global investors in Airtel Africa’s successful business strategy and its potential to sustain growth and profitability,” he said in a statement.
Nigeria is Airtel’s most profitable market, followed by Ghana. As of March 2017, Airtel had 78 million subscribers across the continent.
The investors, who include Warburg Pincus, Temasek, Singtel and SoftBank Group International, among others, are seeking to tap into the telecom’s operations in 16 African countries.