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Google to invest up to $1 billion in Bharti Airtel, buy 1.28% stake

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date

New Delhi: The board of Bharti Airtel has approved issuance of 7.1 crore equity shares to Google on preferential basis, the telecom major announced on January 28. India’s second largest telecom operator will partner search engine giant Google on a long-term, multi-year agreement to accelerate the growth of country’s digital ecosystem.

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Google will invest up to $1 billion in a partnership with Airtel as part of its Google for India Digitization Fund. The deal includes investment of $700 million to acquire 1.28% ownership in Airtel and up to $300 million toward potential multi-year commercial agreements.

“The Board of Directors (‘Board’) of the Company, at its meeting held today i.e. January 28, 2022, approved the issuance of upto 71,176,839 equity shares of face value of Rs 5- each of the Company to Google International LLC on a preferential basis in accordance with Chapter V of the SEBI (Issue of Capital and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations, 2018 (‘ICDR Regulations’), as amended and other applicable laws, at a price of Rs 734- per equity share aggregating to Rs 52,243.80 million, subject to the approval of regulatory/ statutory authorities and the shareholders of the Company at the Extraordinary General Meeting,” the filing said.

“As part of this partnership, Google intends to invest up to $1 billion, as part of its Google for India Digitization Fund, which includes equity investment as well as a corpus for potential commercial agreements, to be identified and agreed on mutually agreeable terms over the course of the next five years,” Airtel announced.

Google’s investment on Airtel will comprise a $700 million equity investment in Bharti Airtel at a price per share of ₹734, and up to $300 million that will go towards implementing commercial agreements, which will include investments in scaling Airtel’s offerings that covers a range of devices to consumers. This deal will be subject to necessary regulatory approvals.

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Google had announced plans less than two years ago to infuse $10 billion in India via its digitisation fund over five to seven years. It had invested in Reliance Industries Ltd’s digital unit Jio Platforms in July 2020.

“As a part of its first commercial agreement, Airtel and Google will work together to build on Airtel’s extensive offerings that covers a range of Android-enabled devices to consumers via innovative affordability programs. Together, the companies will continue to explore further opportunities to bring down the barriers of owning a smartphone across a range of price points, in partnership with various device manufacturers,” the Sunil Mittal-led telco added.

“Airtel and Google share the vision to grow India’s digital dividend through innovative products. With our future ready network, digital platforms, last mile distribution and payments ecosystem, we look forward to working closely with Google to increase the depth and breadth of India’s digital ecosystem,” Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman of Bharti Airtel said.

Shares of Bharti Airtel surged over 2% to ₹725 apiece on the BSE in Friday’s opening deals. Last week, the company had announced that the board will consider and evaluate the proposal for issuance of equity shares through preferential issue on January 28.

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