MTN denies talks to buy stake in India’s Loop

MTN denies talks to buy stake in India’s Loop

Mumbai: South Africa’s MTN denied on Monday it is in talks with Loop Telecom after a report said it was looking to buy a stake in the Indian mobile operator to gain entry into the world’s fastest growing wireless market.

Citing people close to the development, Business Standard newspaper said MTN has been negotiating through merchant bankers and Loop Telecom is willing to sell up to a 45% stake in the firm, which is not listed.

“The MTN Group can confirm that it is not in talks with Loop Telecom and firmly denies any media speculation suggesting such talks," spokeswoman Nozipho January-Bardill said in a statement.

MTN, Africa’s biggest mobile operator by subscribers, also has a large presence in the Middle East and has been actively seeking to partner with an Indian counterpart.

It failed twice to finalise tie-ups with India’s Bharti Airtel and was also unsuccessful in pursuing a deal with Bharti’s rival, Reliance Communications.

India’s Essar Group has a stake of less than 10% in Loop.