Bharti Airtel is mulling listing of the holding company for Africa operations, Bharti Airtel International (Netherlands) or BAIN, as the company eyes better valuation of its businesses in the continent which will eventually help it raise more funds.
“This is to inform you that board of directors of BAIN BV on February 12, 2018 has authorised its management to initiate non-binding exploratory discussions with various banks/intermediaries to evaluate the possibility/feasibility of listing of its shares on an internationally recognised stock exchange,” Bharti said in a stock market listing.
The above discussions are at an “exploratory/preliminary stage” and at this juncture, there is no certainty of any final decision or outcome, it added.
Incorporated in March 2010, BAIN is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bharti Airtel. Its direct shareholders are Bharti Airtel International (Mauritius), Bharti Airtel (Singapore) and Bharti Airtel.
At present, BAIN has operations in 14 countries across across Africa and is one of the largest telecom service providers in terms of geographical reach with more than 84 million subscribers as on December 2017.
Bharti’s performance in Africa has constantly been improving since the last 8-10 quarters as it focuses on cost optimisation. During Q3FY18, Africa reported EBITDA margin of 35.5%, a little over 8% growth Q-o-Q. Revenues at $783 million grew 5.3% Q-o-Q, while EBITDA at $278 million was higher than $184 million in Q2.
It is now focusing on 3G, 4G data and m-commerce (Airtel Money) as the next growth engines in Africa. At present, it offers 3G services and Airtel Money in all 14 countries and 4G services in four countries.
Bharti in a bid to cut costs and turn around its Africa business monetised its telecom towers and sold its telecom business in Sierra Leone. In 2016, it divested 922 telecoms towers in Congo and 588 in Niger.
The sale of telecom operations in Sierra Leone to Orange was also completed in 2016. In the last two years, it has closed tower assets sales in 11 countries and divested two country telecom operations for around $3.25 billion.