Hopes of Bharti deal with MTN rise

INDIA'S Bharti Airtel has received bids from more than a dozen foreign banks, including Citi and JPMorgan, to fund its proposed stake to buy into MTN, India's Economic Times reported yesterday, raising hopes for a deal.

Citing unnamed bankers, the newspaper said Bharti had called for fresh indicative financing bids from banks, and that a total 13 banks from the US, Europe and Asia had put in offers, each for R4000million before a Monday deadline.

The foreign banks include Barclays, HSBC, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, Calyon, DBS and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp, the paper said.

The State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank were interested in giving rupee loans, it said.

Bharti and MTN are in exclusive merger talks until August 31 for a complex cash and stock deal, which would see MTN and its shareholders taking a 36percent interest in the Indian firm and Bharti owning 49percent in MTN.

Brokerages had expected a net cash outflow from Bharti after initial terms were announced in May, though the firms said the terms and structure of the deal might be adjusted.

The newspaper quoted investment bankers as saying Bharti was looking at an overseas loan of about R28billion and a rupee funding of about R16billion.

Bharti is likely to decide on the banks by this week and finalise the financing by August 29, it said.

A Bharti spokesperson declined to comment.

BMI-TechKnowledge managing director Denis Smit said the deal would probably go through.

"It brings scale to the companies involved," he said.