Bharti eyes Lankan assets

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  • Published 7.10.09

New Delhi, Oct. 7: Bharti Airtel — the country’s top mobile operator — is planning to bid for Luxembourg-headquartered telecom firm Millicom’s Sri Lankan operations.

“We are considering it (placing the bid). That much I can say,” said Manoj Kohli, CEO of Bharti Airtel. Besides Sri Lanka, Millicom has put up its assets in Laos and Cambodia for sale.

The Nasdaq-listed Millicom provides prepaid cellular services to over 30 million customers in 16 emerging markets in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

According to analysts, Bharti, which failed to forge a deal with South Africa’s MTN, could also look at Kuwait’s Zain, Egypt’s Orascom and Dubai’s Warid Telecom. All of them have operations across Asia and Africa and are looking for a strategic partner.

South Africa’s third largest mobile operator Cell C, which was looking at suitors last year, could be another target for Bharti.

Analysts said Bharti could sustain its growth only by entering markets such as Africa, which had been growing at 25 per cent and had over 370 million subscribers.