In August 2013 Bharti Airtel raised its stake in Airtel Nigeria by 13.36 percent. BusinessDayOnline quoted a note to stakeholders as saying that the stakes had been acquired from 'certain existing shareholders although the financial details not disclosed.
Looking at Airtel's African subscriber base, Nigeria is its biggest market, with some 21.59 million subscribers at the end of June 2013. It represents 30 percent of Airtel's African base. This is a market in which Airtel has to perform well in if it is to justify to its shareholders that it has made the right call in acquiring Zain's African assets in April 2010.
But it is also a market that it cannot afford to fail in. Should Nigeria fail, the profile of its African market changes dramatically. Tanzania is its second largest market, but representing only 12 percent of the Airtel total, with some 8.6 million mobile subscribers.
Airtel’s hold on Nigeria is now the subject of a serious legal challenge. Econet Wireless, with its 5 percent stake, is looking for USD 3.1 billion in damages after it opposed the sale of the Nigerian business to Airtel.
But - as in Kenya - Airtel still has to make its mark. As the African market enters a period of consolidation, there will room for up to three players in major markets, and being fourth is not a good place to be.
For a detailed appraisal of this key Airtel market, download a free whitepaper detailing some of the major issues now facing Airtel, and illustrated with four charts showing Airtel Africa Mobile Subscribers & Group Share by Country 2Q 2013; Nigeria GSM Operator Market Share 1Q10 - 2Q13; Nigeria Ported Mobile Subscribers end-June 2013 and Airtel Africa Mobile Subscriber Base 4Q09 - 1Q13.
for 'Africa & Middle East Telecom-Week'
Further reading: Airtel in Nigeria 2013 - everything to play for