According to The Economic Times, Bharti Airtel is in talks with American media and communications giant Liberty Media to sell a stake in its unlisted direct-to-home (DTH) business, as compulsory digitisation and higher foreign ownership limits drive firms to seek capital and market reach.

Several private equity funds were in independent discussions with the company to buy a minority stake in the DTH business, which commands an 18% market share in subscribers. The likes of Temasek, Carlyle, ICICI Venture and American media company Comcast have shown interest in the company so far. The Bharti-Liberty talks are now focused on the American company buying 25% in the DTH unit.

The report adds that Bharti officials are believed to be pushing for the unit to be valued at about US $1.5 billion. “The asking price of the company was too high for a financial sponsor to pay and hence, at that valuation, a strategic player is what the company looking at,” said a managing director of a global private equity fund who had held initial discussions with the company.