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Bharti’s Kenyan Unit Abandons Merger Plan

The Kenyan unit of Bharti Airtel has abandoned plans to merge with Telkom Kenya to take on the market leading operator Safaricom, industry and government sources said on Monday.

Sources said in April that Airtel and Telkom Kenya were planning to merge to create a stronger challenger to Safaricom, which has 72% of subscribers, or about 30 million subscriptions.

‘Cold feet’

“Airtel developed cold feet,” said an industry source who declined to be named.

Airtel, owned by India’s Bharti Airtel, did not respond to a request for comment.

Joe Mucheru, the Minister for Information and Communication, said he was aware of the walkout by Airtel.

The proposed merger broke down over a number of issues, particularly Airtel resisting making a commitment to significant future investments in the company, the industry source said.

The sector regulator, Communications Authority of Kenya, said neither Telkom nor Airtel had formally communicated with it about the deal.

Telkom Kenya, which is controlled by Africa-focused, London-based Helios Investment declined to comment.

Telkom and Airtel have a combined 23% of Kenya’s 41 million mobile subscribers. – The Hindu

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