Carlyle continues India investment with Nxtra stake

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Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and L&L Partners advised entities within the Carlyle Group when it agreed to acquire a 25% stake in Bharti Airtel’s data centre arm, Nxtra Data.

Bharti Airtel, which will retain the remaining 75% stake, used in-house lawyers led by group GC Sameer Chugh.

The US$235 million deal was signed on 1 July and will close when the necessary regulatory approvals are received, including approval from the Competition Commission of India.

L&L’s team consisted of senior partner Mohit Saraf, partners Sundeep Dudeja, Vaibhav Kakkar and Samarth Gupta, senior associate Sahil Arora, and associate Debarpan Ghosh.

Freshfields’ team was led by its Hong Kong-based partner and head of Asia transactional practice, Simon Weller.

Pointing out that this was one of the largest PE investments in a data centre business in India, Kakkar, at L&L Partners, told India Business Law Journal that not only was the deal “innovative”, but it was significant that it happened “in covid-19 times”.

The investment occurs as data protection laws in India are still being fleshed out. A bill that seeks to provide protection for the personal data of individuals, and establishes an authority to oversee the same, was introduced in the lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha, on 11 December last year.

Nxtra Data, a subsidiary of Bharti Airtel, offers secure data centre services to Indian and global enterprises, hyperscalers, startups, small to medium-sized enterprises and governments.

This is US-based Carlyle Group’s third India investment in recent months. On 27 June, it announced it was buying a 20% stake in the pharmaceutical unit of Piramal Enterprises for about US$490 million. On 8 May, it announced it would acquire up to a 74% equity stake in animal health-focused pharma company SeQuent Scientific, for US$210 million.