Qatar Foundation unit offers to sell $1.46b stake in India’s Bharti Airtel

Bharti Airtel
A girl checks her mobile phone as she walks past the Bharti Airtel office building in Gurugram, previously known as Gurgaon, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India April 21, 2016. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/File Photo

Qatar Foundation, a non-profit run by the gas-rich country’s royal family, plans to sell its 5 percent stake in Indian mobile-phone operator Bharti Airtel Ltd. for about $1.46 billion, according to terms obtained by Bloomberg News.

Three Pillars Pte., Singapore, an affiliate of Qatar Foundation Endowment SPC, is selling as many as 199.9 million Bharti Airtel shares for 473 to 490 rupees each on Wednesday, the terms show. UBS Securities India is the placement agent for the shares, which are being offered at 4.7 percent to 8 percent below Tuesday’s closing price for Bharti Airtel.

Qatar had to redeploy some of its foreign assets to bolster the local economy and banking system after Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties on June 5 and withdrew deposits, accusing the sheikdom of funding terrorism. Qatar has repeatedly denied the charges.

The country’s $320 billion sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, has reduced its direct holdings in Credit Suisse Group AG, Rosneft PJSC and Tiffany & Co. in recent months. Qatar has also made some acquisitions since June, most notably Qatar Airways Ltd.’s purchase of a 9.6 percent stake of Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., a deal valued at HK$5.16 billion ($662 million).

Qatar Foundation built branch campuses for Cornell, Northwestern, Georgetown and other U.S. universities, and its endowment includes 27 percent of Vodafone Qatar and a property development unit that will eventually host most of the financial firms in Doha. The foundation acquired the Bharti Airtel stake for 340 rupees a share in May 2013.

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Bloomberg