Airtel to switch hands again?

Airtel a visual history

Signtel now has 32.34% stake in Bharti Telecom Ltd


geek week emblemIf switching hands called for a guinness world record, then this telecom company comes first for all telcos vying for the award. The year was 1995 when it launched to the populous as Celtel characterized with hefty charges to it subscribers. Its customers were regarded rich as it won them a special status among the masses for owning the then bulky phones from Celtel which were characterized with expensive plans. For those with good memory should know that the brick looking Ericsson were today’s iPhones by then. In fact most mobile phones were called Celtel.

All this changed when South African based MTN joined the race and drastic changes happened to the Ugandan telco space and its entry intensified competition that saw prices drop following a downward spiral for the common man to finally join the connected world.

 Airtel Uganda A Visual History

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Airtel a visual history


It then switched hands to Zain in 2007 when its operations were bought by Kuwait based Zain group which also sold to Bharti Airtel in 2010 and the telco rebranded as Airtel. Airtel saw the purchase of Warid that consolidated the telecom space in 2012 to create the second largest telecom company in Uganda with an estimated 7 million subscribers second to only MTN.

It’s a brief history down the road but reports reaching our desks suggest that the “Big Red” telecom company is set to switch hands for the 4th time selling to SingTel, which is based in Singapore. Earlier last year, Reuters reported about the Singaporean operator raising its stake in Bharti Airtel, the holding company for Airtel for a staggering $383.6 million to own a 32.34 stake in the company.

SingTel bought 788.5 million Bharti Telecom shares from MacRitchie Investments Pte, a unit of Singapore’s state investment firm Temasek Holdings. Temasek in turn owns 51.88% equity stake in SingTel.

The year was 2013 when all these events unfolded and this is poised to change as SingTel is alleged to have acquired a controlling stake in Bharti Airtel and is going to take over its operations especially those down the Sahara. This means that Airtel’s African operations might see new bosses besides the usual Indians and it might be among the reasons to explain why Airtel’s new MD is not of Indian descent unlike the previous cases that have seen traditionally Indians on top of the Airtel hierarchy. Be set to welcome a new boss if all these allegations finally bear fruit. We shall be updating you about any possible changes in these reports.