India's Mobile Phone Giant Aims Again at South Africa's MTN

About a year ago, India Knowledge at Whartonv asked:  "Now That the MTN Merger Deal Has Collapsed, What's Next for Bharti Airtel?" Now we know. It's going to try again. The Financial Times reports today that India's biggest mobile phone operator, which is controlled by billionaire entrepreneur Sunil Bharti Mittal, has renewed discussions for a merger with South Africa’s MTN to create an emerging market Indian-African telecom venture with revenues of about $20 billion and more than 200 million subscribers.

As it was a year ago, one of the more delicate aspects of the talks may be the national pride invested by India in Bharti Airtel and by South Africa in MTN. The new terms of the revived deal appear aimed at making the transaction look like a merger of equals to satisfy South African political sensitivities about selling off a national champion, according to the FT report.

Additional Reading from India Knowledge at Wharton:

Bharti Group's Sunil Bharti Mittal on Lessons of Entrepreneurship and Leadership