Bharti enters into discussion with South Africa's MTN

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New Delhi, May 5 (UNI) Leading telecom service provider Bharti Airtel Ltd today said it had entered into an exploratory discussion with South Africa's largest mobile-phone company, MTN Group Ltd.

''Bharti Airtel Limited has entered into an exploratory discussion with MTN Group Ltd, South Africa. Current discussions are still at an early stage, are exploratory in nature and may or may not lead to any transaction,'' a company statement said.

African telecom giant, MTN's board was supposed to hold a board meeting today in Johannesburg to discuss a possible stake sale.

MTN has been the target of takeover speculation since 2004 when a South African newspaper reported that Norway's Telenor could be in the running to buy MTN. The report was later denied.

MTN Group, which operates in 21 countries in Africa and West Asia, has 62 million subscribers. Its operations include Nigeria, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and Sudan.

Two month ago, Britain's Vodafone Group denied a report it had been in talks with MTN about acquiring a stake in MTN's international operations.

UNI PDT RC RAI2345

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