Bharti shares rise as MTN talks deadline looms

Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe arrives with flowers to receive blessings at the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, Colombo, Sri Lanka on Wednesday 4 April 2018. On wednesday (4), Wickremesinghe survived a no-confidence motion in the Sri Lankan parliament with a 46 vote majority after a 12-hour debate with 122 MPs voted in his support while 76 MPs voting to remove the prime minister. (Photo by Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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.