Bharti Enterprises ditched a proposed deal to merge its communications business with that of Tata Group, and will instead focus on driving an acquisition of Telenor India and offloading part of its stake in tower business Bharti Infratel.
Sources familiar with the negotiations for a so-called mega merger of Bharti Enterprises and Tata Group’s telecom, overseas cable and enterprise services, and TV businesses said Bharti Airtel shareholder Singtel had reservations about the deal, The Economic Times (ET) reported.
Specifically, ET stated the Singaporean operator was concerned the Tata Group deal would distract from Bharti Airtel’s efforts to compete with rival Reliance Jio, which has shaken up India’s mobile market since its launch in September 2016.
While a Bharti Airtel company representative played down the speculation, ET reported Bharti Enterprises will now focus its attention on completing key deals including a sale of up to 22 per cent of its Bharti Infratel tower unit, and the merger with Telenor’s Indian business.
In a separate report, ET said the latter deal, first announced in February, is now a step closer after being given a green light by India’s National Company Law Tribunal.
The approval clears another hurdle to the deal, which ET reported was cleared by the Competition Commission of India, the country’s Securities and Exchange Board, and the National Stock Exchange of India in June.