Liberty Media eyes Airtel stake

Bharti Airtel is in talks with US telco giant Liberty Media to sell a stake in its unlisted DTH business, as compulsory digitisation and higher foreign ownership limit drive firms to seek capital and market reach.

According to reports, Bharti has informed three private equity firms that it was keen on selling a larger stake at a higher valuation. A strategic player with deep pockets will be better bet than private equity funds, the funds have been told.

These private equity funds were in independent discussions with the company to buy a minority stake in the DTH business, which commands an 18 per cent market share in subscribers. The likes of Temasek, Carlyle, ICICI Venture and American media company Comcast had shown interest in the company so far.

The Bharti-Liberty talks are now focused on the American company buying 25 per cent in the DTH unit.

Bharti officials are believed to be pushing for the unit to be valued at
about $1.5 billion.

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