Bharti to keep busy despite MTN failure: analysts

NEW DELHI, October 6, 2009 (AFP) – So what’s next for Indian telecoms tycoon Sunil Bharti Mittal after the collapse of his proposed mega-merger deal with South African flagship cellular operator MTN? Plenty, say analysts. The 51-year-old chairman of India’s top mobile phone Bharti Airtel — who calls himself a business “junkie,” always hungering for new deals — still has a lot on his plate to keep him busy.

For one thing, Mittal, who turned a bicycle parts-making firm into India’s largest mobile operator with 100 million clients, can focus his attention to the sale of licences for third generation, or 3G, bandwidth in India.

“Bharti can now focus on business issues such as the 3G auction,” said Angel Broking analyst Harit Shah.

The plan by Bharti Airtel to ally with MTN and create an emerging market telecom giant fell apart last week after the South African government said it feared MTN might lose its “national character” in the deal.

Indian cellular operators are keen to obtain 3G bandwidth as it will allow them to offer high-speed services that can be used by mobile subscribers ready to pay extra for multimedia services such as email and video on their phones.

The Indian government has