No quick dual listing for Bharti, MTN, says minister

India’s Bharti Airtel and South African MTN Group are not looking at a dual-listed structure immediately if their merger goes ahead, Indian Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in an interview with a television channel.

Telecoms companies Bharti and MTN revived merger talks in May, a year after previous talks broke down over who would control a merged entity. A merger would create an emerging-markets giant with more than 200-million customers across India, Africa and the Middle East.

Neither companies are talking of dual listing immediately, but are considering buying shares in each others’ companies, Mukherjee told the ET NOW TV channel, adding that dual listing was not necessary for buying each others’ shares.

Excerpts of Mukherjee’s interview were broadcast on Monday.

Mukherjee had earlier said the Indian government welcomed a tie-up between Bharti Airtel and MTN, but there were legal issues that needed to be looked at. He had also said a dual listing of the firms would require the rupee to be made fully convertible, which needed to be examined.

South Africa’s government is eager to retain MTN’s national character and has approached Indian authorities to consider a dual-listed structure, which is not allowed under existing Indian laws.

The firms have extended the deadline for their exclusive talks twice and the current deadline runs until Wednesday.—Reuters

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