Vodafone group will sell its 4.4% stake in Bharti Airtel Ltd.
UK-based Vodafone Group will sell its 4.4 per cent stake in Bharti Airtel if rules no longer permit telecom operators to keep share in competitors, a top executive of Vodafone India said.
Marten Pieters Vodafone India managing director and CEO said -
“The share is not with us, it’s with Vodafone Group so we really don’t know… I can only say if the rules don’t allow us to keep it then we will not keep it. We are not going to sell the Indian operations to hold 4.4% in Bharti.”
Vodafone has to sell its entire stake in Airtel following new norms issued by government that bars a telecom operator from holding any kind of stake in competition under Unified Licences (UL). Vodafone and Airtel currently operate on Unified Access Service Licence (UASL) licence, or 2G licences, under which telecom companies are permitted to hold up to 9.9 per cent stake in other firms. As Vodafone Group owns a majority stake in Vodafone India and a small stake its Airtel, it currently doesn’t comply with the new rules.
New Licensing Norms state -
“In the event of holding/obtaining Access spectrum, no licensee or its promoter(s) directly or indirectly shall have any beneficial interest in another licensee company holding ‘Access Spectrum’ in the same service area.”
New rules say no carrier can hold a direct or indirect stake in a rival operating in the same service area. The rules apply across the country’s 22 licensing ”circles”.