New Delhi: Days after Bharti Airtel Ltd, India’s biggest mobile phone company, and MTN Group Ltd of South Africa extended their exclusive talks for a multi-billion-dollar merger for a second time until 30 September, top executives of the two firms on Monday called on Indian government ministers.

Merger talks: Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal. Ramesh Pathania / Mint

MTN chief executive officer Phuthuma Nhelko and Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Mittal met finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and minister for corporate affairs Salman Khursheed in the capital.

Khursheed described the meetings as a courtesy call. Around two months ago, Mittal had called on Khursheed. Soon after, the ministry of corporate affairs had issued a crucial clarification on global depositary receipts, or GDRs.

Separately, Sebi had also issued an "informal guidance" to Bharti Airtel to the effect that MTN would be required to make an open offer only if it converted the Bharti Airtel GDRs it receives into equity shares with voting rights.

Bharti proposes to issue 25% equity through GDRs to MTN, while an additional 11% will be held by MTN shareholders.

Meanwhile, people familiar with the situation said that some of the issues being possibly discussed with the MCA include competition regulatory clearances, compliance as well as disclosure requirements and the approval of a scheme of arrangement for the first step of the deal.

The two parties have already said that they will attempt a full-fledged merger at the second step. In addition, the Registrar of Companies is also required to scrutinise the proposed GDR issue, prior to final Sebi approval.

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