Bharti Airtel, India’s top mobile phone carrier, has not yet decided on a possible initial public offering (IPO) of its telecoms tower unit, its chairman said on Thursday.
Sources had told Reuters in July that Bharti Infratel, the mobile phone carrier’s telecoms tower arm, was looking at a minimum $500 million IPO, for which it was expected to file regulatory papers in September or October.
“We look at various options. At the moment, there is no decision,” Sunil Mittal told reporters after Bharti Airtel’s annual shareholder meet, adding merchant bankers for the planned share sale are yet to be mandated.
Sources had said Standard Chartered and Morgan Stanley were among the frontrunners to help manage the IPO.
India’s equity capital market has been sluggish this year with companies raising $7.1 billion in the first half of 2011, down nearly 42 per cent from the same period last year, Thomson Reuters data showed.
The BSE Sensex, which is down nearly 19 per cent this year, is among the worst performers in the world.
Many companies, including state-run firms ONGC and SAIL, have delayed their shares sale plans due to poor market sentiment.
Bharti Infratel, which had nearly 33,000 telecoms towers as at end-June, also holds a 42 per cent stake in tower company Indus Towers in a joint venture with Vodafone Essar and Idea Cellular.
Separately, when asked if Bharti Airtel’s parent Bharti Group was looking to exit telecoms software firm Comviva completely, Mittal said: “We look at all options. No decision has been taken. There is no active engagement with anyone.”
Media reports had suggested earlier that Bharti Group was looking to sell a stake in unlisted Comviva, in which WestBridge Capital, Sequoia Capital India and Cisco Systems are the other investors.