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Google eyes stake in Airtel a year after investing in rival Jio

Google in “advanced stage of negotiations" with Airtel for "nearly one year": Report


After pumping in thousands of crores in Reliance's telecom arm last year, US tech giant Google is eyeing an investment in Jio's rival Bharti Airtel. The move will amp up the competition between the rivals in the Indian telecom space that is currently headed towards a duopoly of sorts with the future of Vodafone Idea, the third largest market player, in question. 

According to a TOI report, "Google could well be on its way to making substantial investments, running into several thousands of crores of rupees”, into Bharti Airtel. The Sundar Pichai-led company is in “advanced stage of negotiations" with Airtel for the "past nearly one year", and the deal size could be “substantially large”.

The contours of the partnership are being worked upon for months as top executives from both companies, and their internal and external legal and M&A teams are thrashing out the finer points of the arrangement. 

It remains to be seen if Jio Jio places any restrictions on the company from making a tie-up with a rival. 

Meanwhile, Airtel will hold its board meeting on August 29 to consider various capital raising options. The fund raising options entail equity or equity linked or debt instruments, the company said in a regulatory filing.

It did not divulge the quantum of fund raising under consideration or give other details.

If Google picks up a stake in Airtel, it would come as a breather for the company that has been hit by the Supreme Court's verdict on AGR. Airtel's total AGR dues amounts to over Rs 43,000 crore. The Bharti group has already paid Rs 18,004 crore in AGR-related dues to DoT by March 31, 2021. 

The top court in September last year had given a time period of 10 years to telecom service providers struggling to pay Rs 93,520 crore of AGR related dues to clear their outstanding amount to the government.


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