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26 July 2009

SingTel seeks financing for merger with India’s Bharti

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Singapore Telecommunications was talking to banks for $3 billion financing related to the merger between its Indian unit, Bharti Airtel, and MTN Group Ltd, Reuters reported.

The talks on financing are at a high level, and a final size has not yet emerged because the structure of the Bharti-MTN merger has not been finalised, said the report, citing sources.

Bharti, India's leading mobile operator, and MTN had said they were considering an initial deal worth more than $23 billion, under which Bharti would pay cash and shares to end up with 49 percent of MTN after MTN pays cash and stock for an effective 36 percent stake in the Indian firm.

SingTel, which owns about 31 percent of Bharti, could not give official comments on the report immediately. But the merger could change SingTel's control over the combined entity, but would remain a strategic partner and significant shareholder.

On Friday SingTel officials said that merger negotiations between Bharti and MTN were ongoing and they could not give comments or updates on the progress. Goldman Sachs was advising SingTel on its plan regarding the merger plan, a source with direct knowledge of the deal told Reuters.

One year ago, when Bharti and MTN were first in talks, SingTel had said it would support Bharti financially in any merger and acquisition activity.

A merger between Bharti and MTN would create a $61 billion telecoms giant spanning Africa, Asia and the Middle East.


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