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Airtel buys 49% of Qualcomm's India BWA biz for $165 mn

MUMBAI: Telecom major Bharti Airtel has agreed to acquire 49 per cent stake in Qualcomm Asia Pacific‘s interest in Indian BWA entities for $165 million, giving it a pan-India presence for rolling out 4G services.


Bharti will buyout 26 per cent of Qualcomm‘s India interest held equally by Global Holding Corporation and Tulip Telecom Limited. The balance 23 per cent will come by way of subscription of fresh equity in Qualcomm‘s India entities.


Qualcomm AP‘s India entities hold BWA licenses in Delhi, Mumbai, Haryana and Kerala. Bharti already has BWA licenses in four circles - Kolkata, Karnataka, Punjab and Maharashtra - and 3G licenses in 13 circles in India.


The agreement contemplates that once commercial operations are launched, subject to certain terms and conditions, Bharti would assume complete ownership and financial responsibility for the BWA entities by the end of 2014.


Bharti has, thus, secured a nationwide broadband leadership through a combination of 4G and 3G, with its own networks in 18 circles. Bharti has already taken the lead in LTE TDD space by launching 4G services in Kolkata and Karnataka Circles.


Commenting on the partnership, Bharti Airtel chairman and MD Sunil Bharti Mittal said, "This partnership will combine the strength of Bharti‘s national telecom footprint and Qualcomm‘s technological leadership in the LTE TDD space. With a broadband ready network across India, Bharti is well positioned to lead the next phase of Indian‘s telecom revolution."


Qualcomm expects to provide technical assistance to Bharti in connection with network architecture and optimisation, infrastructure and device testing, as well as continuing to develop and support the underlying technology and the LTE TDD ecosystem.


"One of our key objectives has been to include a strong partner in the Indian venture with the scale, experience and resources to deploy LTE TDD networks. We are pleased to have Bharti‘s participation and support in this effort," said Qualcomm chairman and CEO Dr Paul E Jacobs. "GHC and Tulip have been great partners in facilitating this transaction. Qualcomm remains dedicated to the continued progress and success of the BWA venture and to fulfilling our commitment as a key equity stakeholder."

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