Mergers & acquisitions

Rumor: MTN Back on M&A Trail

MTN Group Ltd. , the South African carrier that has tried (but failed) during the past few years to expand its horizons via mergers with Indian carriers, is believed to be closing in on a deal to buy most of the African mobile assets of Orascom Telecom , according to a report from IT News Africa. (See Bharti, MTN Abandon $23B Merger.)

And it seems a deal might be unveiled Tuesday, as trading in Orascom's shares on the Egyptian stock exchange have been suspended because the company is set to announce a "material event" on April 27.

The deal is thought to involve Orascom's subsidiary, Telecel Globe, which operates in Burundi, the Central African Republic, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, plus Orascom's mobile assets in Algeria and Tunisia. Together, these operations have about 20 million customers -- with Algeria (under the brand "Djezzy") by far the largest, with 14.6 million customers at the end of 2009, followed by Tunisia ("Tunisiana") with more than 5 million and annual revenues of more than $2.3 billion.

The deal is not set to include Orascom's minority stake in Egypt's Mobinil , which has been the subject of recent disputes with majority shareholder Orange (NYSE: FTE).

MTN, which has operations in 16 African countries and a number of Middle East markets, generated revenues of more than $15 billion in 2009, and ended last year with 116 million customers. See this press release for more details.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

digits 12/5/2012 | 4:38:27 PM
re: Rumor: MTN Back on M&A Trail

The 'material event' turned out to be related to Orascom's spat with France Telecom over their respective stakes in Mobinil, so we'll have to wait a bit longer for any news related to the sale of assets to MTN (if a deal is reached).

If a deal IS reached, though, it'll make MTN and Bharti even stronger rivals in Africa -- and they tried to tie the knot twice in the past! The African mobile market is definitely heating up, though there do seem to be just as many companies ready to sell their way out of the market as there are potential buyers... it's all about massive scale and economies across a whole continent, I guess.

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