Bharti Airtel shortlists banks for Infratel IPO - sources

MUMBAI/NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Bharti Airtel has shortlisted banks including Standard Chartered and JPMorgan to manage a share flotation for its telecoms masts unit to raise more than $750 million, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

The biggest Indian mobile phone carrier has also shortlisted Bank of America Merrill Lynch, HSBC, UBS and Kotak Mahindra for the initial public share offer (IPO), the sources said on Friday.

Bharti may file a prospectus for the IPO with the market regulator next month, said the sources, declining to be named as they are not authorised to speak to the media.

The unit, Bharti Infratel, is eyeing a listing in the first half of 2013, the sources said.

Bharti declined to comment.

Bharti Infratel, which has more than 33,000 mobile phone masts, also holds a 42 percent stake in joint venture Indus Towers, which is the world's biggest telecoms mast company, with about 110,000 masts.

Mast companies get their revenue from leasing infrastructure to network operators but they are going through a tough time in India currently as a Supreme Court order to revoke the regional operating licences of eight mobile phone companies in the 15-player market has weighed on demand for masts.

Bharti Airtel owns 86 percent of the Infratel unit, with the remainder held by investors including Temasek Holdings, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co, Goldman Sachs, Macquarie Group, Citigroup, Investment Corporation of Dubai and AIF Capital.

Bharti Airtel said this month it was considering a sale of up to 10 percent of Infratel in the IPO.

Bharti Airtel, which in 2010 acquired in a $9 billion deal the mobile operations in 15 African countriesof of Kuwait-based telecoms group Zain, had net debt of about $12 billion at end-June.

The company has reported 10 consecutive quarters of profit decline, hit by fierce competition in its home market and also weighed on by losses in its African business.

Its shares are down about 28 percent so far this year after a slew of brokerage downgrades in August, underperforming the broader market that is up more than 16 percent.

(Additional reporting by Indulal PM; Editing by Tony Munroe and Greg Mahlich)

Updated Date: Aug 25, 2012 02:15 AM

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