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No bid yet for MTN, says Bharti Airtel; scrip falls

india Updated: May 06, 2008 21:35 IST
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Amid talks of acquiring South Africa's telecom company MTN, Bharti Airtel said on Tuesday that it has yet to make a firm bid to buy whole or part of the company.

"The speculation around a bid by Bharti in a section of the media is incorrect and misleading. Details of any transaction will be released promptly, if and when, the parties reach an agreement," a Bharti Airtel statement said.

On Monday, Bharti had said it has initiated "exploratory discussions" with MTN Group.

Tuesday's statement followed a report in British daily Financial Times that Bharti has made an indicative bid worth about $19 billion for a 51 per cent stake in MTN.

"Current discussions are still at an early stage, are exploratory in nature and may or may not lead to any transaction," the statement said. "As a responsible listed company, Bharti will continue to uphold the highest levels of transparency and corporate governance."

Shares of Bharti Airtel fell 5.3 per cent to close at Rs 846.60 in Tuesday’s trading on the Bombay Stock Exchange against the previous day's close of Rs 893.85. It had touched intra-day low of Rs 840.35.

Meanwhile, MTN had also informed the Johannesburg Stock Exchange that it was engaged in talks with Bharti Airtel.

"Further to the statement released by the company on Friday, April 25, 2008, shareholders are advised that MTN is engaged in discussions with Bharti Airtel, which if successfully concluded, may have a material effect on the price of the company's securities," MTN's statement to the bourse had said on Monday.

Shares of MTN were trading over 5 per cent higher at 158 rand on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

MTN is a provider of communication services, offering cellular network access and business solutions and operates in 21 countries in Africa and West Asia.