Bharti Airtel has denied it was preparing to sell a stake in the company, following widespread reports that SoftBank was considering making an investment in the operator.
In a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange, Airtel said “at this juncture, there is no proposal for sale of stake in Bharti Airtel either directly or indirectly,” adding it would not comment further on media reports linking it to Japan-based conglomerate SoftBank.
Several Indian media outlets covered SoftBank’s reported interest in either acquiring a stake in Bharti Airtel from the business itself or through an interest in its largest shareholder.
Similar stories emerged last week claiming Singtel was set to make a bid to increase its stake in Airtel’s largest shareholder Bharti Telecom to 50 per cent, from its current level of 48 per cent.
Reports by The Economic Times last week stated Bharti Airtel applied for permission to increase the level of its foreign shareholding, a move necessary if Singtel were to own a majority of Bharti Telecom and, by proxy, control its stake in the operator.
Rumours on Bharti Airtel taking on further investment comes as Indian mobile players continue to be squeezed. The company booked a loss of INR28.6 billion ($401 million) in its most recent quarter (the three months to the end of June).