MTN circling Tata

31 Jul 2014

The Hindustan Times cites sources with knowledge of the matter as saying that South Africa’s MTN Group is looking to break into the Indian market through the acquisition of struggling telco Tata TeleServices (TTSL). The unnamed source claimed that talks were still in the early stages, whilst a corporate lawyer that had advised Tata regarding the sale of DOCOMO’s stake in the company confirmed that MTN had completed two rounds of preliminary discussions. MTN has in recent years attempted to enter the Indian market through deals with Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communication (RCOM), although the talks ultimately came to nought. The rumour mill was spurred on earlier this week by the announcement from the chairman of Mumbai-based industrial group RPG Enterprises who said that MTN was carrying out due diligence on a large Mumbai-based telecom firm. Whilst TTSL has been identified as the most likely candidate for a potential takeover, RCOM and Aircel were also suggested as potential candidates. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that industrial conglomerate Tata Group is keen to sell off its loss-making telecoms division, and the company has been linked with a number of potential acquisition deals including a three-way merger deal with Sistema Shyam TeleServices (SSTL) and Aircel under which the Russian-backed firm would become the dominant shareholder in the enlarged business.