/ 25 April 2008

MTN: No ‘specific proposal’ for takeover

South African mobile services operator MTN said on Friday that it had not received any “specific proposal” from any company regarding a takeover of the company.

MTN was responding to a report that India’s Bharti Airtel is considering a bid for the company.

The Financial Times (FT) reported that Sunil Bharti Mittal, the company’s founder and chairperson, on Thursday night denied that a board meeting earlier in the day had studied a proposal for a formal approach. A decision to proceed with a formal offer had not been taken and might never be, he said.

However, people familiar with the matter said Standard Chartered was advising Bharti on its options and Singtel, which owns 35% of Bharti and supports the idea of an MTN deal, was being advised by Goldman Sachs. Neither bank commented, the FT said.

Others close to the situation said the Indian operator was studying options for non-organic growth carefully and had pushed the South African company to the top of its shopping list, the paper said.

Responding to the report on Friday, MTN said: “MTN has noticed speculation in the press today regarding a potential offer. MTN receives tentative approaches from time to time, which are always evaluated by the company. The board of MTN has not received any specific proposal and if and when there is anything specific to report, the market will be notified.” ‒ I-Net Bridge