MTN weighs merger with Reliance

Nicole McCormick
04 Jun 2010

The board of South African operator MTN is considering a merger with India’s Reliance Communications, according to the Economic Times.

Reliance Communications chairman Anil Ambani will fly to Johannesburg on Sunday, fuelling speculation that he will meet with MTN to discuss a merger plan, said the Hindustan Times.

Abu Dhabi-based Etisalat is also reported to be in talks about taking up to 45% in the operator, India’s second largest.

"Both [deals] look fairly reasonable, but the one which is from Abu Dhabi looks a little bit more advanced," a person close to the deal toldET on Thursday.

A deal with MTN would be a case of second time lucky for Reliance.

The pair’s plans for an equity swap deal in 2008 were thwarted when Reliance Industries, controlled by estranged brother Mukesh Ambani of RCom boss Anil Ambani, invoked his first refusal rights as part of a non-compete deal inked by the brothers in 2006.

That non-compete clause was laid to rest last month.

RCom will use the funds from a divestment to help pay back its $6.2 billion debt, which recently swelled by $1.8 billion thanks to 3G, said theWSJ.

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