Anil Ambani-controlled Reliance Communications is looking to bid for South African telecom major MTN. Reliance Communications is talking to leading global banks to raise resources and be ready, in case MTN’s management decides to invite bids, a top investment banker close to the development said.
According to him, Reliance Communications (market cap $30 billion) is exploring the possibility of a leveraged buyout, ie, borrowing to buy MTN equity. Vodafone and China Mobile are other contenders. MTN’s board meets on May 5 to evaluate options including inviting bids for management control.
A Reliance Communications spokesman refused comment: “We do not react on market speculation.”
MTN itself has been ambiguous about a takeover. “MTN receives tentative approaches from time to time, which are always evaluated by the company,” an April 25 communication to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange said. The notice came after speculation that Bharti Airtel was planning bids for MTN, a report that Airtel subsequently denied.
MTN (market cap $35.5 billion) is Africa’s largest telecom firm with 68.2 million subscribers as on March 31.