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Bharti deal to buy 70% of Warid Tele

New Delhi, Jan. 12: Bharti Airtel today bought a 70 per cent stake in Bangladesh’s fourth-biggest mobile phone operator Warid Telecom for $300 million.

Bharti, which will get management and board control of Warid under the deal, will use the $300 million for network expansion and the introduction of innovative products and services.

The UAE-based Abu Dhabi Group, a consortium of investors that includes members of the royal family of Abu Dhabi, will continue to hold 30 per cent in Warid.

The total investment in Warid will be around $1 billion. “The existing shareholder, which is Dhabi Group, has already invested about $680 million. So, if you add to this another $300 million that Bharti will bring in, the total investment is close to $1 billion,” said Manoj Kohli, CEO of Bharti Airtel.

Abu Dhabi Group CEO Bashir Ahmed Tahir said the Indian firm might have to spend more than the $300 million initial investment. He expects the deal to close in the next 7-10 days.

The Sunil Mittal-promoted company said it would make the acquisition by buying existing shares in Warid Telecom International from the Abu Dhabi Group and issuing fresh shares at par.

Analysts said the deal puts Warid’s enterprise value at $600 million.

“The landmark deal underlines our intent to further expand our operations to international markets,” said Sunil Mittal, chairman and managing director of Bharti Airtel.

A decision to change the company’s name would be taken by the board later, Kohli said.

The focus will be on rolling out the network in Bangladesh quickly and launching the Airtel brand.

The company is also likely to take part in the 3G auctions in Bangladesh that are scheduled to take place later this year.

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