Bharti Airtel might sell bigger share of Bharti Infratel

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In order to pare over $14 billion of debt and get in hand some funds for network expansion, India's leading telecom player Bharti Airtel may decide to sell a major share in its tower arm Bharti Infratel.

The reason behind this possible change of plan could be the 26% surge in Infratel's stock price that it has witnesses over the past three months. The funds from this sale might be used to strengthen Airtel's balance sheet amidst intense competition from rivals, especially Reliance Jio.

"What Airtel needs to do is focus on keeping the balance sheet very strong, because for the next one year, it doesn't have control over its profit and loss account... It has got to keep the balance sheet strong, even stronger than it is," a person aware of the development told ET .

Because of the competition, Airtel has reported a 72% fall in net profit in the January-March quarter, down to Rs 373 crore, the lowest in four years.

The company was under a debt of $14.1 billion at the end of March, with a 13% rise in net finance costs.

While Airtel could be thinking of selling a bigger share from Infratel after the rise in its stock, potential buyers might also be taking note of the rise and may get discouraged to go ahead with the deal.

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