Liberty Media wants stake in Bharti Airtel's DTH unit

July 12
4:14 AM 2013

Bharti Airtel is in discussions with American communications and media giant Liberty Media to put up for sale a stake in its unlisted Direct-to-Home line of business. Higher foreign ownership and compulsory digitisation have pushed limit firms, such as Bharti Airtel, to increased market reach and to seek capital.

Bharti advised three private equity firms that it was inclined to sell a bigger stake at a higher valuation, two sources familiar with the deal said

These private equity funds were in separate talks with the firm to purchase a minority stake in the Direct-to-Home unit. The likes of  ICICI Venture, Carlyle, Temasek, and American mass media firm Comcast had displayed interest in the company. However, the Bharti-Liberty discussions are today concentrated on the American company purchasing around 25% stake in the Direct-to-Home business.

Bharti officials are thought to be pressing for the unit to be evaluated at around US$1.5 billion. "The asking price of the company was too high for a financial sponsor to pay and hence, at that valuation, a strategic player is what the company looking at," said one of the representatives of a private equity fund who held prelimenary talks with the firm. 

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