MTN wants to finalise Bharti merger soon

MOBILE operator MTN wants to conclude a proposed tie-up with Indian partner Bharti Airtel quickly to end any doubt about the deal, chief executive Phuthuma Nhleko said.

MOBILE operator MTN wants to conclude a proposed tie-up with Indian partner Bharti Airtel quickly to end any doubt about the deal, chief executive Phuthuma Nhleko said.

"We want to do the deal sooner rather than later because we are really uncomfortable with the uncertainty," Nhleko said yesterday.

Last week, Bharti and MTN extended talks aimed at creating the world's third-biggest mobile company for a second time, frustrating investors who wanted the deal finalised, and raising concerns its structure was too complex to succeed.

Both firms agreed to extend talks to September 30, after previously extending discussions by a month to August 31, as they negotiate a $23billion (about R181billion) cash and share-swap deal aimed at an eventual full merger.

MTN yesterday posted first-half results showing headline earnings per share rose 22,5percent to 415,5 cents, in line with its forecast for a rise of 19,8-24,8percent.

Nhleko said that under the proposed deal with Bharti, MTN would continue to be listed on the Johannesburg bourse, adding there were misconceptions about the proposed transaction.

"MTN remains the way it is. All that happens is that Bharti takes a stake in MTN and vice versa. The character and the identity remains the way it is," he said. - Reuters

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