Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

Bharti in talks with Orange to sell 4 African operations

- HT Correspond­ent letters@hindustant­imes.com

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.”

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