Merger Talks Fail Between India’s Bharti and MTN in Africa

Merger talks between Indian telecommunications company, Bharti Airtel, and MTN Group of South Africa fell through after disagreement on the structuring of the merger.

Bharti Airtel said Saturday that it had disengaged from talks with MTN after the South African company had insisted that after the merger, Bharti Airtel should be a subsidiary company of MTN. Key shareholders in Bharti Airtel, such as the Bharti family and Singtel, would in return hold a majority stake in MTN, according to a statement from Bharti Airtel.

Bharti Airtel informed the Bombay Stock Exchange in India earlier this month that it had entered into exploratory discussions with MTN, without providing details.

MTN was not immediately available for comment. Reliance Communications, another large Indian telecommunications company is said to have also offered to merge with MTN, according to sources.

Large Indian companies are looking outside Indian to expand their operations. For Bharti Airtel, a deal with MTN would have transformed the company from an Indian company to a multinational operation. That status would not have been achieved if the company was made a subsidiary to MTN, Bharti Airtel said.