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Bharti Airtel clinches Qualcomm 4G LTE venture

Gagan

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Bharti Airtel clinches Qualcomm 4G LTE venture

Telecom Lead India: Bharti Airtel will buy 49 percent stake in Qualcomm's 4G LTE venture in India for $165 million.

Airtel will buy 26 percent stake held by two Indian partners in the Qualcomm venture and the remaining by subscribing to fresh equity.

The chip major Qualcomm had spent nearly $1 billion to buy 4G radio airwaves in 2010.

The mobile operator will take full control of the BWA entities by 2014.

Bharti will have access to four telecoms zones, including Delhi and Mumbai cities. The deal is significant for Airtel as TD-LTE subscribers to reach 5 million by 2013 in Indian telecom market.

The Mukesh Ambani-promoted Reliance Industries' telecom venture is expected to launch LTE services in Mumbai and Delhi in the next 12 months.

At present, Bharti has BWA license in four - Kolkata, Karnataka, Punjab and Maharashtra.

The company recently launched commercial 4G networks in Kolkata and Bangalore cities.

"We are delighted to partner with Qualcomm, who shares our commitment to the government's agenda of broadband for all," said Sunil Mittal, chairman, Bharti Airtel.

"One of our key objectives has been to include a strong partner in the Indian venture with the scale, experience and resources to deploy LTE TDD networks. We are pleased to have Bharti's participation and support in this effort," said Paul E Jacobs, chairman and CEO of Qualcomm.

Later it sold 26 percent stake to Indian companies Global Holding and Tulip Telecom for about $58 million to comply with the sector's foreign holding rules.

The venture's equity value was about $223 million and enterprise value, which includes debt, was more than $1 billion in 2010 when it entered into the stake sale agreements with the two Indian companies.
 
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