Bharti and MTN surprise with further extension to negotiations

24 Aug 2009

The long-running talks between India’s Bharti Airtel and South Africa’s MTN Group look set to continue on for longer than expected, after the two companies announced that they had further extended the deadline for the talks to 30 September, the Economic Times reports. The move has surprised those following the negotiations between the two companies, particularly as it comes less than a month after the two telcos said that they would extend their exclusive negotiation period to the end of this month. Despite the fresh delay, Sunil Mittal, the Bharti Group’s chairman and managing director, has said that he remains positive that a deal can be reached, while also refuting claims that Bharti was under pressure to sweeten the deal. Commenting on the development Mittal noted: ‘We are not really looking at sweetening the deal… There are no contentious issues over the deal structure. During discussions, there will be adjustments to what was announced earlier, but that is not the area of focus. We are looking at administrative issues, the process of seeking permissions and working towards a scheme of arrangement acceptable to all.’

India, South Africa, Bharti Airtel, MTN Group