MTN-Bharti Airtel deal called off

     Talks over a proposed partnership between Bharti Airtel and South Africa's MTN have been called off, with Bharti Airtel saying that the South African government is not ready to "accept the deal in its current form." In a statement issued on Wednesday, Bharti Airtel said that it says it hopes government will "review its position in future". MTN says: "Information has been released in India by Bharti Airtel Limited relating to the potential transaction between MTN and Bharti. MTN will release an announcement as soon as possible." "Bharti wanted to expand their footprint globally, but that just doesn't seem to be happening right now. But this is not the end of the story. They probably have to look at something smaller than MTN or some other region to enter," Deven Choksey, CEO of Choksey Shares and Securities, said. "The deal being called off is a blessing in disguise for Bharti shareholders as the company would have had to borrow a lot, and Bharti's earnings per share would have been diluted by 5 to 8 percent," he added. Earlier this day, South African Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda said MTN Group should remain a domestic company. "It would be sad if we saw this entity move into the hands and management of foreign nationals. Its management must remain South African," he was quoted, as saying. Earlier this month, the two companies had reportedly reached a "24 billion dollars preliminary accord on commercial terms". The talks, which have been extended twice since May, expired today. The sticking point of the deal has been the South African government's insistence that MTN have a dual listing. Indian law does not currently allow for this.

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