New Delhi/ Johannesburg: Telecom firms Bharti Airtel Ltd and MTN Group Ltd are likely to update the market on Monday on talks aimed at merging their operations, two persons with direct knowledge of the matter said.
Exclusive negotiations towards a deal, which would see each company pay cash and stock for a stake in the other and create the world’s third largest mobile phone group, were due to lapse on Friday.
Some persons familiar with the matter had told Reuters last week that the talks were likely to be extended by at least two-three weeks as details of the complex agreement still needed to be ironed out.
India’s Bharti and South Africa’s MTN revived merger talks in May, a year after previous talks broke down over who would control a merged entity. A merger would create an emerging markets giant with nearly 200 million customers across India, Africa and the West Asia.
A combined entity would be the third biggest mobile operator based on subscribers behind China Mobile Ltd and Vodafone Group Plc., although its annual sales of $20 billion (Rs 96,400 crore) would be dwarfed by China Mobile’s $60 billion and Vodafone’s $65 billion.
“Probably it will be issued on Monday,” said one person, of a possible joint statement.
“You won’t probably get anything until Monday,” said the other one. Both the persons declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.
MTN’s second largest investor said earlier this week that the firm was likely to reach an agreement with Bharti by the end of August, a month later than the original deadline.
Narayanan Somasundaram in Mumbai and Gugulakhe Lourie in Johannesburg contributed to this story