SingTel – BT

SingTel may keep 25% stake in Bharti-MTN

SINGAPORE Telecommunications (SingTel) could maintain a 25 per cent stake in the combined entity created as a result of a potential merger between India’s Bharti Airtel and South Africa’s MTN, Morgan Stanley said in a report yesterday.

‘We do not expect the Bharti-MTN transaction to have material dilutive impact to SingTel’s EPS (earnings per share),’ analysts at the US investment bank said.

‘Indeed, if the Bharti-MTN transaction goes through and SingTel increases its stake in the new entity using debt (which is very likely), we see room for slight EPS enhancement.’

SingTel, South-east Asia’s biggest phone firm, owns about 30.4 per cent stake in Bharti Airtel, India’s leading mobile operator.

SingTel has said in the past it will remain a significant shareholder after any deal, though some analysts have expressed concerns that its stake in the combined entity could fall below 20 per cent.

Bharti Airtel’s planned tie-up with MTN faces scrutiny from regulators and politicians. It said on Tuesday that the deal would comply with the laws in both countries and any required waivers would be sought when appropriate.

Bharti Airtel’s statement came shortly after the Indian market regulator amended takeover regulations by bringing depositary receipt holders with voting rights on par with shareholders.

Morgan Stanley said the latest change in takeover regulations in India creates uncertainties about the deal, but if the transaction goes through, it expects SingTel could borrow to increase its stake in the combined entity.

SingTel could enhance its earnings-per-share compound annual growth rate by 200-300 basis points assuming a 25 per cent stake in the new entity, the research report said. — Reuters

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