SingTel – BT
Bharti to complete Zain deal by April
Bharti Airtel is aiming to conclude its planned purchase of the African assets of Zain telecom by late April, it was reported on Saturday, as the Indian company’s chief defended the deal.
Bharti Airtel, India’s top mobile phone company, and Kuwait’s Zain said last week they would hold talks until March 25 to work out details of the proposed US$10.7 billion deal giving the Indian firm access to markets in 15 African nations.
‘Everything is on a pretty fast track,’ Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman of Bharti Airtel, told India’s CNBC TV18 network, calling the proposed takeover ‘a great opportunity’ for the Indian company.
‘If we can complete our positioning on the deal on (March) 25th . . . then you should just await country approvals,’ Mr Mittal said. ‘My guess is that by the end of April, we should be looking good (for closure of the deal). This deal has no complications,’ he said.
Mr Mittal’s remarks came after shares in Bharti Airtel plunged 12 per cent in a week following the announcement of the offer, closing on Friday at 278.25 rupees.
Analysts have expressed worries that debt for funding the purchase could put pressure on Bharti’s balance sheet and that it was overpaying for poorly performing assets.
Late Friday, global ratings agency Standard & Poor’s placed Bharti on ‘creditwatch with negative implications’, warning its finances could be strained by debt to fund the deal and by the weak earnings of Zain’s African operations. – AFP