Bharti shares rise as MTN talks deadline looms

NEW DELHI, September 29, 2009 (AFP) – Shares of Bharti Airtel rose nearly two percent in morning trade Tuesday ahead of an expected announcement by the top Indian mobile firm and South Africa’s flagship group MTN on a possible tie-up. Shares of Bharti Airtel were up 1.75 percent or 7.25 rupees at 421.60, a day ahead of the deadline to conclude negotiations on creating an emerging market telecommunications powerhouse.

New Delhi-based Bharti said a statement was expected later in the day on the outcome of the talks that have been going on since May between MTN, Africa’s largest cellular group, and Bharti.

“We should have an announcement later in the day,” a Bharti official said.

The deadline for the discussions, which have already been extended twice since talks began in May, expires on Wednesday.

Analysts say the two sides may come out with an agreement paving the way for a complex cash and share swap that was first announced in May and would give both companies a minority stake in each other.

But the second “broader objective” of the proposed deal — a full merger of the groups — could take much longer, analysts say, especially because of South African worries about preserving the national identity of MTN.
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