Bharti-MTN extend exclusive talks period till Aug 31

Bharti-MTN extend exclusive talks period till Aug 31 New Delhi: Telecom firm Bharti Airtel on Monday said it has extended the exclusive talk period with South Africa-based MTN for a potential transaction till August 31, as talks are still inconclusive.

Bharti had announced on May 25, that it has entered into exclusive talks with MTN for exploring a potential transaction in share-swap and cash deal to create a USD 23-billion entity. But the period for exclusive talks between them expired on July 31.

"As discussions between the parties regarding the potential transaction are continuing, both parties have agreed to extend the exclusivity period up to August 31, 2009," Bharti said in a statement.

As per the proposal, Bharti would acquire 49 percent shareholding in MTN and in turn MTN and its shareholders would acquire about 36 percent economic interest in the Indian firm.

To a query on reasons for extending the talks, a Bharti spokesperson declined to elaborate.

"No decisions or agreement to acquire any share or implement the transactions have been made by the boards of either Bharti or MTN and the discussion may or may not lead to any transaction," the statement said.

"The structure and terms of the potential transaction may be adjusted to reflect further discussion between the parties."

Bharti and MTN had agreed to discuss the potential transaction with one another until July 31, 2009. The potential transaction would create a leading telecom service provider with a combined revenue of over USD 20 billion and combined customer base of over 20 million.

Bureau Report