Bharti Airtel plans to take full ownership of Qualcomm's TD-LTE venture in India by end-2014, after kicking off its plan by acquiring a 49% stake.
The Indian telco has forked out $165 million (€131 million) for the holding, which includes 13% stakes held by Qualcomm’s local partners Global Holding and Tulip Telecom, with the remaining 23% covered by the issue of fresh equity in the Qualcomm businesses holding 4G and broadband wireless access (BWA) licenses in India. The deal stipulates that Bharti will acquire complete control by 2014, subject to the launch of commercial operations, and the fulfillment of certain other terms.
Qualcomm’s agreement to sell means Bharti has doubled the number of circles in which it holds 4G spectrum to eight. Qualcomm’s local businesses also hold BWA licenses in four of India's 22 telecom circles, including Delhi and Mumbai.
Paul Jacobs, Qualcomm chief executive, says Bharti joining the venture fulfils a key objective of the company's Indian outing - “to include a strong partner in the Indian venture with the scale, experience and resources to deploy TD-LTE networks.” Bharti was the first Indian operator to debut TD-LTE services with a launch in the Kolkata circle last month.
Qualcomm was only recently confirmed as BWA license holder, following a two year battle with the government.