According to the Financial Times, MTN of South Africa is in talks with Orascom Telecom about buying the Egyptian company’s African subsidiaries. According to the report, the talks began as a discussion about MTN buying Orascom’s Algerian subsidiary Djezzy but have since expanded to include most of its African businesses, including Tunisia, Burundi, Central African Republic, Namibia and Zimbabwe. However it is thought that MTN is less keen to buy Orascom’s minority stake in Egypt’s leading mobile operator, ECMS (Mobinil). No deal has yet been finalised, but an announcement could come as early as next week, according to unnamed sources.
MTN’s move on Orascom, which has a market capitalisation of USD7 billion, underlines how the Johannesburg-listed company is still hunting for acquisitions after three failed attempts to combine with Indian mobile operators. MTN held two rounds of merger talks with Bharti but both ended in failure. It also held talks in 2008 with Reliance Communications, India’s second largest mobile operator.