Global private equity company Warburg Pincus is to buy 20 percent of Bharti Telemedia, the direct-to-home (DTH) arm of Bharti Airtel for about USD 350 million. The deal will be structured with Bharti Airtel selling a 15 percent stake and another Bharti Group entity selling 5 percent to an affiliate of Warburg Pincus. Bharti will retain the remaining 80 percent. Bharti Telemedia had 14 million subscribers and reported USD 550 million in revenues in the 12 months to September. The Bharti Airtel board has approved the transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals. Viraj Sawhney of Warburg Pincus India will join the board of Bharti Telemedia.
Headquartered in New York, Warburg Pincus invested USD 292 million between 1999 and 2001 for a 19 percent stake in Bharti Tele-Ventures. In 2002, the Indian company went public, diluting Warburg Pincus to 15 percent. The company gradually sold off its stake for over USD 1.6 billion – nearly six times the original investment – and had exited by 2005.