KOLKATA: Bharti Airtel shares were up nearly 3% to Rs 603 on Monday morning after company chairman Sunil Mittal told ET that the telco, which has housed all its digital assets under the Airtel Digital unit, is in talks to make it a parallel entity to the telco, in turn, opening up the option of monetising a separate asset in future.
In mid-day trade, the shares were up 2.1% at Rs598.55 on the BSE.
The new structure, Mittal said, could remove the telecom regulatory overhang over Airtel Digital, which could even be listed in 2 to 3 years. The Bharti chairman also said that going forward, expansion in financial services, which includes hopes of becoming a small finance bank, would be a big focus area.
Airtel shares were up after Mittal told ET that the telco’s “inner strength” may have been underestimated by some, as the company emerged stronger from the “reset” of the industry.
Bharti Airtel recently reported Rs 854 crore net profit for the October-December period, returning to black after six straight quarters of losses, backed by strong data user additions.
The telco recently demonstrated live 5G services on its 4G network using the 1,800 MHz band and has said it could commercially launch 5G with existing 4G airwaves in a few months. It is, in fact, expected to bid aggressively in the upcoming March spectrum sale as the government has allowed telcos to offer new technologies, such as 5G, using existing 4G bands by giving just six months’ notice instead of a year earlier.
The country’s first spectrum sale in over four years kicks off on March 1, setting the stage for Reliance Jio, Airtel and Vodafone Idea to bid for airwaves worth Rs 3.92 lakh-crore at base price.