Qatar Foundation sells its 5% stake in Bharti Airtel for $1.48 bn

Airtel stock's Tuesday closing price of Rs. 514.35 on NSE

BREAKINGVIEWS-Qatar makes timely escape from Indian telecoms

Mumbai: Three Pillars Pte, an arm of the Qatar government, plans to offload around 5% in telecom services major Bharti Airtel for about Rs 9,500 crore ($1.46 billion) through block deals on Wednesday.

It is now offering shares of the Indian wireless carrier at 473 rupees to 480 rupees apiece, representing a 6.7 percent to 8 percent discount to its last close, according to terms for the deal obtained by Bloomberg on Tuesday. The foundation acquired the Bharti Airtel stake for 340 rupees a share in May 2013.

Bharti Airtel shares fell nearly 6 per cent as more than 243 million shares changed hands in multiple block deals, according to reports.

The Gulf countries cut diplomatic and transport ties with Doha on June 5, accusing it of backing terrorism, a charge which Doha denies.

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. With the shares in an upward spiral, telecom companies have gained Rs 40,300 crore in combined market value.

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Bharti Airtel shares closed 3.7 percent down at 495.30 rupees.

"We are delighted to have partnered with Bharti Airtel through an important stage of their growth. We remain firm supporters of the Bharti Airtel business, the management team and their strategy, and wish them well in the future", Rashid Al-Naimi, Chief Executive Officer of QFE, said in a statement. Given the sale price of INR 481 per share, the sale of this stake realizes a significant gain for TPPL.

Bharti Airtel shares, however, are still up about 60 per cent in 2017 even after the share fall.

The competition in the mobile services market has hit earnings and the financial metrics of large established telecom players and led to a massive consolidation in the industry, with smaller players exiting the market, and others going in for M&A deals to protect their market share.

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