Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)
Bharti in talks with Orange to sell 4 African operations
NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel International (Netherlands) BV is in talks with Orange SA of France to sell four of the telecom operations in 17 countries it acquired in Africa in 2010.
Airtel, the world’s third-largest operator in terms of subscribers, has “‘entered into an exclusive agreement to explore the possible acquisition by Orange of Airtel’s subsidiaries in Burkina Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville and Sierra Leone,” the company said in a statement on Monday.
One reason for the proposed exit, analyst say, could be Airtel’s mounting losses in these countries. When asked if this is the beginning of an exit from Africa for Airtel, the company sought more time to respond. An email sent went unanswered at the time of going to print.
While it is difficult to estimate the total loss, Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a July 3 report, “We expect Africa revenues (in dollar terms) to growth 2% quarter-on-quarter, and estimate Africa margins will decline 110 bps qoq due to the impact of tower-company separation.”