Shaila’s Weblog

MTN Bharti proposed merger will dominate cellular market

Posted on: May 19, 2008

Bharti – India’s biggest integrated telecom firm and MTN ( Mobile Technology Networks) – South Africa’s biggest GSM Cellular operator, were putting up finishing touches to the funding structure of the proposed merger between the giants of cellular industry.

A merged group would create the world’s sixth largest mobile company with a network of 130 million subscribers — 68 million from MTN and 62 million from Bharti — that would dominate two of the world’s fastest growing cellular markets — India and Africa.

Bharti might offer the chairman’s post of the proposed merged colossus to MTN group chairman M.C. Ramaphosa to sweeten its overtures, India’s Business Standard newspaper said on Friday.

Bharti’s billionaire chairman Sunil Mittal would be deputy chairman and group chief executive officer while MTN chief executive officer Phutomo Nhleko would be deputy group CEO, the paper reported.

Bharti has said “discussions being held are aimed at combining the strengths of two players from emerging markets” and that it was looking at “possible structures to achieve this objective.”

Bharti wants to acquire a 51 percent stake. But MTN, which serves 21 markets across Africa and the Middle East, is pushing Bharti to buy out 100 percent of the company in a transaction that could be portrayed in South Africa as a merger of equals, reports said.

If it goes ahead, the deal would easily eclipse Tata Steel’s 13.7-billion-dollar takeover of Anglo-Dutch steelmaker Corus last year, India’s biggest foreign acquisition so far.

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