Bharti Airtel in final stages of merger talks with MTN(Lead)

May 14th, 2008 - 10:20 pm ICT by admin  

London/New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) Bharti Airtel, India’s largest telecom firm, Wednesday entered into final stages of merger talks with South Africa’s largest telecom operator MTN in a deal that is estimated to be worth nearly $45 billion, according to highly placed sources. Airtel’s chief Sunil Bharti Mittal, along with the firm’s top brass, is said to be currently locked in talks with MTN chief Phuthuma Nhleko and its top management team in London to thrash out the final details of the deal.

However, company officials refused to confirm the talks or comment on the latest developments. In a statement issued earlier on Tuesday, Bharti stated: “The discussions being held are aimed at combining the strengths of the two leading emerging markets players and accordingly veering towards possible structures to achieve this objective.”

“Bharti would like to reiterate that these discussions are still exploratory in nature and may or may not lead to any transactions,” it added.

MTN is attractive to acquirers for its 70 million customers spread across 21 countries, including South Africa, Nigeria, Iran and Cyprus, netting profits of $1.58 billion on revenues of $9.62 billion.

In comparison, Bharti Airtel has 62 million customers and reported net profits of $1.67 billion on $6.76 billion sales in the last fiscal.

The deal, if it goes through, would be India’s biggest foreign acquisition ever.

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