Bharti sweetens offer for MTN deal: report

NEW DELHI, September 22, 2009 (AFP) – India’s top mobile firm Bharti Airtel has offered a range of new concessions to South Africa’s MTN in order to seal a tie-up, a report said Tuesday. “Bharti Airtel is making a slew of last-minute concessions to sew up a deal with MTN as it awaits a political push to take the planned tie-up past the hurdle of national pride in South Africa,” the Economic Times newspaper said.

Bharti has also offered MTN minority shareholders 13 billion dollars cash, rather than a combination of cash and shares, to acquire their 36 percent stake in the South African firm, the paper said, quoting a source close the deal.

A merger between the two would create the world’s third-largest mobile phone operator by subscribers, which would straddle Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

According to the report, Bharti is also proposing that MTN’s top management retain their positions for the next three years and that it would cap its stake in MTN at 49 percent for at least five years.

The latest deal would increase the MTN stake in the merged entity to 27 percent instead of the 25 percent offered in May.

A final agreement could be blocked by the iss