MTN linked to India’s biggest telcos

Speculation mounts that South African mobile operator MTN is in talks to acquire some of India’s biggest telecoms operators.

CNBC TV India reported that MTN, which has a presence in 22 countries in Africa and the Middle East, “has been fairly interested” in Tata Teleservices, a subsidiary of Tata Communications – the controlling shareholder in Neotel.

It follows reports that Vodafone pulled out of talks with Tata Teleservices.

“Right now it (MTN) is talking to Tata Teleservices, and also trying to talk to other small cap players as well, Uninor etc. They are trying to explore options. So, right now one cannot be 100 percent sure on how serious they are as far as TTSL is concerned,” CNBC said, citing two sources.

Uninor is a subsidiary of Norwegian operator, Telenor Group, claiming to be the 6th largest operator in India.

Earlier in the week, Harsh Goenka, chairman of RPG Enterprises, which comprises over fifteen companies in the areas of infrastructure, tyres, technology, and specialty, posted the following note on Twitter:

MTN due diligence tweet
MTN due diligence tweet

Last year, MTN Group held detailed discussions for a potential acquisition in India with Reliance Communications, the company it tried unsuccessfully to merge with in 2008.

However, the talks were put on hold, according to Bloomberg, citing “three people with knowledge of the situation”.

The media house said that MTN had been discouraged by a revision in India of its telecommunications mergers and acquisitions rules.

MTN has also previously held talks with Bharti Airtel for a potential R24 billion merger deal in 2009, which was called off.

MTN said it did not wish to comment on market speculation.

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MTN linked to India’s biggest telcos