Just days after telecom major Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal regretted venturing into Africa terming the move “a bit rushed” that took years of his personal time and resources to fix, the telecom major is set to acquire Millicom’s operations in Rwanda. Bharti Airtel Limited (Airtel), a leading global telecommunications services provider with operations in 17 countries across Asia and Africa, on Tuesday said that, through its subsidiaries, it has entered into a definitive agreement with Millicom International Cellular S.A. (Millicom) under which Airtel Rwanda Limited (Airtel Rwanda) will acquire 100% equity interest in Tigo Rwanda Limited (Tigo Rwanda). The acquisition will consolidate the Rwandan telecom market and position Airtel as a strong number 2 operator in Rwanda. While responding to a query at TiEcon Delhi event on December 15 that which is the one business decision that he regrets the most, Sunil Mittal had said, “We all must have made lots of mistakes. Lots of decision when you look back, say I wish they were better thought through. If you pin me down to one, I would say in 2010 our decision to go to Africa was a bit rushed and that has taken 6-7-8 years and a lot of resources and my personal time to fix that.” Airtel is invested in 15 countries at present.
Bharti Airtel share was trading at Rs 522 on BSE at the time of writing the report. Sensex was up by 91 points at 33,693.53.
Strong viable entity
The agreement is subject to regulatory and statutory approvals. Sunil Bharti Mittal said, “Airtel has taken proactive steps in Africa to consolidate and realign the market structure in the last few remaining countries where its operations are lagging on account of lower market share and presence of too many operators. Airtel and Tigo have already merged their operations to create a strong viable entity in Ghana. Today, it has taken yet another important step to acquire Tigo Rwanda to become a profitable and a strong challenger in a two-player market. We are also committed to the long term viability of our operations in two other countries i.e. Kenya and Tanzania, to ensure that in 2018 all our 15 operations in Africa start contributing positive margins and cash flows towards a healthy and profitable Airtel Africa.”
‘One Airtel’ network
The agreement aims to bring together the strengths of Airtel and Millicom in Rwanda and offer benefits to customers in the form of a wider network, affordable voice and data services, and superior customer care. The existing customers of Tigo Rwanda will join Airtel’s global network, which currently serves over 370 million customers across 17 countries. They will enjoy, amongst other things, benefits of the ‘One Airtel’ network with lower roaming rates across Africa and South Asia, an exciting bouquet of innovative services including Airtel Money.