India’s Bharti Airtel prepays $1 billion to partly clear 2015 spectrum dues

BENGALURU (Reuters) – Bharti Airtel has prepaid 83.25 billion rupees ($1.00 billion) to the Indian government’s telecom department to partly clear deferred liabilities for airwaves it acquired in a 2015 auction, it said late on Tuesday.

The payment had an interest rate of 10%, India’s second-biggest telecom services operator by subscribers said in an exchange filing.

Airtel had bought spectrum worth 291.29 billion rupees in the auction, paying 78.33 billion rupees upfront.

It subsequently prepaid 88.15 billion rupees and 80.24 billion rupees in March 2022 and July 2023, respectively.

Bharti Airtel faces dues worth 100 billion rupees-120 billion rupees for the 2015 auction, it said in an investor meet in November 2023.

However, the company did not disclose how much more it would need to pay to completely clear these dues.

Shares of the company closed 3.05% higher on Tuesday.

($1 = 83.1000 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Aleef Jahan and Hritam Mukherjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Varun H K)