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Bharti Airtel plans to kick off IPO of US$5b Africa phone unit

Bharti Airtel's headquarters in Gurgaon, India. The wireless carrier, backed by billionaire Sunil Mittal, has spent heavily to defend its position in India against Reliance Jio Infocomm.


BHARTI Airtel Ltd, India's second-biggest wireless carrier, is preparing to kick off the initial public offering of its Africa unit in a deal that could raise about US$1 billion, people familiar with the matter said.

Airtel Africa is planning to make a formal announcement about the London listing this month and aims to start trading in June, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. It is considering seeking an equity valuation of about US$5 billion, they said.

The IPO could be one of the biggest this year in London, where lacklustre domestic volumes are being boosted by emerging market companies seeking a wider investor pool.

Finablr, the currency-exchange firm controlled by an Abu Dhabi-based billionaire, starting taking orders last week for a share sale that could raise as much as US$677 million. Middle Eastern payments processor Network International Holdings Plc raised £1.1 billion (S$1.96 billion) last month in the largest London IPO this year.

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Valuation and the listing date are still under discussion, and final details could change depending on investor demand and market sentiment, the people said. A representa-tive for Bharti Airtel declined to comment.

Bharti Airtel, backed by billionaire Sunil Mittal, has spent heavily to defend its position in India against disruptive upstart Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd. The firm's Africa unit raised US$1.25 billion last year from investors including Temasek Holdings Pte and SoftBank Group Corp, giving it an equity value of about US$4.4 billion.

The business has operations in 14 African markets including Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana, according to Bharti Airtel's latest annual report. BLOOMBERG

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