Bharti Airtel buys Qualcomm’s India wireless broadband venture

India’s largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel Ltd has completely acquired the Indian wireless broadband venture of Qualcomm, which has broadband licences for Delhi, Mumbai, Haryana and Kerala, for an undisclosed amount, the company said in a release.

In July this year, Airtel had picked additional 2 per cent stake in the venture christened Wireless Business Services Pvt Ltd to hike its stake to 51 per cent in the company.

In May 2012, Airtel had acquired 49 per cent stake in NASDAQ-listed Qualcomm Inc’s Indian BWA (broadband wireless access) business, investing approximately $165 million (Rs 905 crore).

This involved acquiring 26 per cent stake 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 the BWA business entities.

Assuming a corporate valuation of at least that much, Bharti Airtel may have acquired the remaining 49 per cent for at least Rs 905 crore or $165 million (Rs 1,005 crore), depending on the deal being signed in rupee terms or US dollars, given the change in forex rate since then.

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, few years ago. The deal valued the firm at $223 million as against $336 million when Bharti Airtel picked stake last year.

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

Shares of Bharti Airtel were quoting at Rs 353.05 a unit, up 1.25 per cent in mid-day trades on the BSE in a strong Mumbai market on Friday.

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