Mumbai, May 24: India's largest telecom player, Bharti Airtel has agreed to buy 49% stake of Qualcomm Inc's 4G broadband venture for $165 million, said the company.
As per the agreement Airtel will buy a 26% stake from two Indian firms Tulip Telcom and Global Holding Corp and remaining 51% of the 4G business by 2014. By then Qualcomm will exit the venture, however, it will continue to provide technology services, Reuters reported citing sources.
Earlier in 2010, Qualcomm 4G airwaves in an auction, in which it had to spend $1 billion. To fulfill the regulatory norms it had to sale 26% stake to two Indian firms.
With this Bharti, which recently launched 4G services in Kolkata and Bangalore cities, will now have access to vast market of Mumbai and Delhi.
Shares in Bharti ended up 5.6% on BSE Thursday, highest single day gain in three months.
Largest tele major, with operations in 19 countries, won 4G licenses for just four circles out of 22 circles in the country. Qualcomm, is aggressively pushing for the deployment of LTE (long-term evolution) broadband technology in India, and looking for partner operator.
Reliance Industries, with almost no presence in telecom space, won 4G licenses for all 22 circles and has not rolled out services yet.
According to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), Bharti Airtel’s current customer base stands at 181.2 million out of the total 919 million wireless subscribers in March 2012. This turns out to be 19.7% of the total, down from 21.8% from March 2010.