The question to ask about the proposed merger of Bharti Airtel and MTN isn’t whether the coming together of the two telcos makes sense —because it does, and in spades—but whether fickle MTN, which has abandoned several suitors at the altar of matrimony, will finally say yes to commitment.
If the merger does go through, it will be interesting to see what the merged entity does. That’s because the company that will result from the merger promises to be the forerunner of a new kind of South Asian-African multinational. And there are enough factors that work in favour of such firms.
First off, is expertise. Companies that succeed in mass market businesses in India—especially those that do so to the extent Bharti has done—do so on the strength of a low-cost, high-volume business model. That expertise can be put to good use in other, similar markets. Then there is market potential. And Africa is the great white hope of companies in businesses as varied as telecom and automobiles.