Bharti Airtel will not call MTN again: Sunil Mittal

Bharti Airtel will not call MTN again: Sunil Mittal

In his first public appearance after talks were called off on September 30, Mittal, who is CMD of Bharti Airtel said, "No further talks with MTN and the current round is over."

Bharti was in exclusive talks with South African MTN for a deal that would have created the third largest global telecom player with revenues of 20 billion dollars and over 200 million subscribers.

This is the second time in just over a year that talks have collapsed.
"We had a target. We worked for very long (for deal with MTN) but it did not work, he said, adding that "you cannot predict cross-border deals, issues keep coming up and we were trying to overcome hurdles."

He further said that "in the absence of critical government approval, not from Indian side, but from South African side, it not was possible to proceed with the transaction. Mittal also said MTN wanted an approval to invest in India and the issue of dual listing came up in the last stages of discussions.

As per the proposed structure during the tough talks that lasted over four months, Bharti would have acquired 49 per cent shareholding in MTN and in turn MTN and its shareholders would have got about 36 per cent economic interest in Bharti. The issue of dual listing of MTN to maintain its identity in the merged company is believed to be the deal-breaker.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had strongly backed the deal which he took up with South African President Jacob Zuma at the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh last week. When asked about other acquisition targets, Mittal said Bharti is evaluating acquiring Millicom's operations in Sri Lanka. "Due diligence is over," he said.

Bharti has already put in a bid to buy Luxembourg-based Millicom's operations in the island nation. Airtel, which has mobile services running in Sri Lanka, is believed to have put in its bid to acquire 100 per cent stake in Millicom.

The Nasdaq-listed firm Millicom provides prepaid cellular telephony services to over 30 million customers in 16 emerging markets in Latin America, Africa and Asia. It has put its assets in Sri Lanka, Laos and Cambodia up for sale and has about two million subscribers in Sri Lanka.