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Bharti, MTN eye merger again

INDIA'S Bharti Airtel Ltd and South Africa's MTN Group Ltd have renewed merger talks, possibly opening the way for the creation of an emerging markets mobile phone giant with US$20 billion in combined revenues, Bharti said in a statement yesterday.

Bharti would acquire a 49 percent stake in MTN, and MTN and its shareholders would acquire a 36 percent stake in Bharti through a complex cash and equity deal, the statement said.

The two telcos, both leaders in their respective markets, have agreed to pursue exclusive discussions until July 31.

Talks are still at an early stage, but if the deal goes through, the merger would result in a company with over US$20 billion in annual revenues and a customer base of over 200 million, according to the the statement.

It is not the first time the two telcos have come to the table. Talks between Bharti and MTN over a possible merger foundered in May.

MTN then opened talks with India's Reliance Communications, but those talks collapsed in July.

Bharti shares jumped 1.3 percent in early trading on the Bombay Stock Exchange yesterday.



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