Reports this week claim that Indian mobile operator Bharti has sweetened its offer to buy a 49 percent stake in South Africa’s MTN, increasing the likelihood that the two companies will reach a deal to create a global industry giant. AFP, citing a Dow Jones Newswires report, notes that Bharti has increased its offer by about US$900 million in cash, to a total of US$14 billion in cash and stock. The move led shares in Bharti to rise as much as 3.55 percent yesterday.
Under the initial plan, Bharti would become the biggest single stakeholder in the merged group, taking a 49 percent stake in MTN using cash and global depository receipts. Shareholders of MTN would have a 36 percent interest in Bharti through cash and stock. The deal would create a telecoms group with combined revenues of over US$20 billion and a customer base of over 200 million (creating the world’s third-largest mobile operator), which would combine Bharti’s market-leading Indian business with MTN’s various business units across Africa and the Middle East. The two companies recently agreed to extend the exclusivity period for talks once again, giving a new deadline of 30 September.