Shares of India’s biggest mobile phone firm Bharti Airtel rose as much as 3,5% on Thursday on a reports that it had sweetened its offer to buy a 49-percent stake in SA’s MTN.
Dow Jones Newswires reported that Bharti had increased its offer by about US$900m in cash, to a total of $14bn in cash and stock. But a Bharti spokeswoman told AFP: “We will not comment on the issue of the structure of the deal until finalised.” She also said the company “categorically denies” another media report that said both companies had reached a $24bn preliminary agreement to buy each other’s shares.
On Thursday, Bharti’s shares on the Mumbai Stock Exchange jumped 14,55 rupees to a day’s high of 424,4 rupees, before falling back marginally to 417,5 rupees in afternoon trade.
Bharti also declined to comment on the nature of current talks, which have been extended twice this year in a bid to forge an emerging market telecoms giant.
Under the initial plan, Bharti would become the biggest single stakeholder in the merged group, taking a 49% stake in MTN using cash and global depository receipts. Shareholders of MTN would have a 36% interest in Bharti through cash and stock.
The proposed merged company would have more than 200m subscribers and $20bn in annual revenues, analysts have predicted.
A merger between the two would create the world’s third-largest mobile phone operator by subscribers that would straddle Africa, Asia and the Middle East. — Sapa/AFP