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Bharti Airtel completes Zain acquisition


Becoming the world's f if th largest mobile operator, Sunil Mittal led Bharti Airtel on Tuesday announced that it had completed the acquisition of Z ain Telecom's Af rica operations f or $10.7 billion. T he company has now 180 million subscribers in 18 Asian and Af rican nations. T he company announced that it would launch the Airtel brand in Z ain's operations in all the 15 nations in October. Announcing the completion of the deal at a press conf erence here, Bharti group Chairman Sunil Mittal said the transaction is the largest ever cross-border deal in an emerging market and will result in combined revenues of about $13 billion.'' Bharti f inally entered Af rica af ter aborting negotiations twice f or merger with MT N since 2008, with Mr. Mittal stating that in the Z ain's case Airtel would have a total control. He said Z ain Af rica would now be 100 per cent subsidiary of Bharti International. T his deal would signal many new investments that would go to Af rica, he added. At present, China Mobile is the world's largest mobile player with a subscriber base of 522 million, f ollowed by Vodaf one (348 million), Telef onica (206 million) and American Movil (201 million). Africa strategy Elaborating on Af rica strategy, Bharti's international operations in-charge Manoj Kohli said the company had set a target of 100 million subscribers and $5 billion revenues by 2012-13. Bharti has acquired Z ain Telecom's operations in 15 Af rican nations, excluding Sudan and Morocco. Z ain has operations in 17 countries in the region and is claiming to be the second largest operator af ter MT N. Asked whether he regretted missing a deal with MT N twice and whether that was his f irst choice, Mr. Mittal said MT N was the f irst opportunity that was available at that time. In MT N's case, we would have had board control but no management control and no change in brand. T here were compromises to be made (in MT N). Z ain is the second largest operator and that is the only dif f erence. But we will have f ull control and our own brand.'' With this acquisition, we will have an unparalleled f ootprint in one of the f astest developing regions in the world. We are looking at more opportunities as we build more roll outs in Af rica,'' he remarked. T he company has also reached a settlement with Broad Communications, the single largest shareholder in Z ain Nigeria, f ollowing which its chief Otudeko would now head Bharti's operations in Nigeria. T here is no extra payment made f or the settlement. T he company does not see any problem with another small shareholder Econet Wireless in Nigeria. For completing the deal, Bharti paid $7.9 billion and the balance $400 million f rom the total upf ront payment would be done in a f ew days on completion of certain f ormalities,'' Mr. Mittal said.