India’s Economic Times reports that Indian group Bharti Airtel is in ‘advanced discussions’ to sell its Sri Lankan mobile unit Airtel Lanka to UAE-based Etisalat, which already operates on the island as Etisalat Lanka (formerly Tigo). The newspaper quotes two people ‘aware of the development’ as saying that Standard Chartered Bank is advising the Indian company on the proposed transaction, while Airtel Lanka, with a subscriber base of around 1.7 million, has been valued at between USD110 million and USD130 million. Etisalat, Sri Lanka’s third-largest operator with roughly 4.5 million subscribers, would become the second-largest player if the deal went through. Airtel’s subscriber base has reportedly not grown substantially in the past four quarters and despite investing over USD300 million since 2007, the unit continues to make losses. Although Bharti does not report seperate financials for Sri Lanka, the Economic Times’ sources claimed that Airtel Lanka incurred net loses of LKR1.9 billion (USD14.3 million) on revenue of LKR3.2 billion for the quarter ended June 2013.
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