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Bharti Airtel acquires 49% stake in Qualcomm’s India BWA biz for $165M

India’s largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel Ltd has acquired 49 per cent stake in NASDAQ-listed Qualcomm Inc.’s Indian BWA (broadband wireless access) business.

Bharti Airtel has made an initial investment of approximately $165 million to get hold of the BWA licences for Delhi, Mumbai, Haryana and Kerala.

The current deal includes acquiring 26 per cent stake, equally held by Qualcomm’s two India partners Global Holding Corporation Pvt Ltd (the privately held group holding entity of GTL, promoted by Manoj Tirodkar) and Tulip Telecom Ltd, and the rest by subscribing to fresh equity of those entities. Barclays advised Qualcomm on the deal.

A couple of years ago, Global Holding and Tulip Telecom had acquired 13 per cent stake each, for a total of $58 million, when Qualcomm announced its Indian partners for the BWA rollout in India.

As part of the agreement, Bharti Airtel will buy the remaining 51 per cent stake in the broadband venture by 2014 and Qualcomm will exit the venture. However, Qualcomm will provide technical assistance in areas like network architecture and optimisation, infrastructure and device testing. It will also help in developing & supporting the underlying technology and the LTE TDD ecosystem.

Bharti Airtel already holds BWA licenses in four circles in India – Kolkata, Karnataka, Punjab and Maharashtra – and 3G licences in 13 circles in the country.

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