A waiting game

Xolile Bhengu

Xolile Bhengu

MTN shareholders are expected to reject changes to the mobile operator's deal with India's Reliance Communications.

International newspapers reported yesterday that a consortium led by Reliance Communications chairman Anil Mumbai was considering taking a majority stake in MTN.

Under the new proposed structure, a special purpose vehicle controlled by Mumbai would own 51percent of MTN.

The two companies are currently in merger talks that were expected to end next Tuesday.

The deadline for the talks will now have to be extended beyond the initial 45 days.

Analysts said MTN would need to re-evaluate the new structure of the widely speculated deal.

Cadiz Asset Managers IT analyst Rajay Ambekar said the companies would have to discuss a structure that will satisfy MTN's intent of buying into Reliance.

Ambekar said stakeholders, including MTN management, government and the Public Investment Corporation would not approve of a foreign ownership only deal.

He said: "All eyes will be on what announcement is made by the companies next week. Though the markets have been negative, the lack of movement of MTN shares show investors are waiting to see what is announced.

"The deal was always that MTN would also buy into Reliance. The companies need the extension to discuss technical issues of possible litigation and also the pricing of the deal, and what effect that may have on shareholder ownership."

MTN spokesman Nozipho January said there had been wild speculation on the matter and at this stage the company could not comment on what it would do.

January said: "The cautionary that was sent out by the company on May 26 stands.

"We will wait for the expiry of the cautionary on July 8 as planned, and it is most likely that we would then be able to make a statement."