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Singtel may hike Bharti Telecom stake to over 50%

Singaporean operator Singtel could increase its shareholding in Bharti Telecom Ltd. to more than 50%, from the current 48.90%, India's The Economic Times reported, citing a Bharti Group spokesperson.

Bharti Telecom is seeking to pay down some debt through investments from its promoter entities and Singtel. The holding company's debt stood at about 45 billion Indian rupees at March-end, according to sources.

A stake increase would allow Singtel to take majority ownership of Bharti Telecom. This would reclassify the latter's 41% stake in Bharti Airtel Ltd. as foreign equity, taking the mobile operator's overseas ownership to 85.07%.

Bharti Airtel in July, applied for government approval to increase foreign shareholding to 100% since Indian regulatory rules allow only up to 49% of foreign investment under the automatic route in companies.

As of Aug. 7, US$1 was equivalent to 71.10 Indian rupees.