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Johannesburg: Asserting that there is nobody in India who can buy Airtel, Bharti group chairman Sunil Mittal said on Wednesday that the telecom firm will look at opportunities to acquire another firm in India, provided that there is a clear merger and acquisition policy in place.

“I don’t think there is anybody in India who can buy us...," Mittal said here when asked about the new M&A norms in the works and as to whether his company would be the biggest buyer or the biggest seller.

However, he added: “We will be looking at opportunities (for consolidation) but for that a clear M&A policy which has the objective of being an enabler for consolidation is required."

Bharti Airtel Ltd is India’s largest telecom company with 192.22 million subscribers as of August-end. The company had a market capitalization of 1.28 trillion as on 1 October.

It is also among the world’s top five telecom firms and has operations in 20 countries in Asia and Africa with total subscriber base of more than 275 million.

Mittal also said its partner SingTel would like Airtel to be a consolidator in the market.

“...SingTel chairman was in India recently and he made a statement that we will like Airtel to be the consolidator in the market," he added.

Mittal welcomed telecom minister Kapil Sibal’s recent statement that the M&A policy would be announced by 15 October. “We are very encouraged with the ministers statement that something would be coming out in October," he said.

Telecom operators have been waiting for long to see the final M&A guidelines. India has 13 mobile service providers with some of them expected to go in for consolidation once the final guidelines are in place.

Although the telecom ministry had announced broad guidelines for M&As in February last year, the detailed norms are yet to be unveiled. The guidelines that have been okayed in-principle include expeditious approval to merger proposals of telecom companies if their combined market share is up to 35%.

The ministry will seek Trai’s recommendation in case the resultant entity has market share of 35-60%. PTI

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