Bharti eyes emerging markets opportunities

Bharti eyes emerging markets opportunities

Geneva: Bharti Airtel will continue to scan emerging markets for acquisitions or partnerships after the Indian company ended talks over a cross-shareholding deal with South Africa’s MTN last week, its chairman said.

“It’s my job to move forward and not look back," Sunil Mittal said on Monday on the sidelines of a telecoms industry event in Geneva.

“We will keep on looking at opportunities... and will look at all the emerging markets," Mittal said, adding that he was open to partnerships as well as acquisitions.

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Bharti and MTN called off talks to seal a $24 billion tie-up last Wednesday, the second time the a proposed deal between the two had collapsed in just over a year.

Asked if there was a chance for a revival, Mittal said: “For this round, it’s over." He added: “I still talk to them. We are in the same industry."

One of the main sticking points was the South African government’s demand that MTN, Africa’s number-one operator by subscribers, retain its South African management and a Johannesburg listing after the deal -- a structure at odds with current Indian regulations.

Mittal declined to comment on speculation that Bharti was now eyeing a stake in Kuwait’s Zain.

Mittal is known to forgo meat before a big venture and he said he had been following a vegetarian diet up until 30 September, the deadline for talks between MTN and Bharti.

His current eating habits, he said, were non-vegetarian.