India's Bharti, MTN progress merger talks

India's Bharti Airtel and South Africa's MTN may complete their merger talks this weekend, a Reuters report, citing India's Mint newspaper, said.

Bharti is the leading mobile phone operator in India, the world's second biggest mobile market after China.

Bharti has said talks with MTN are preliminary and no bid has been made.

Media and analysts estimate Bharti may value MTN as high as €32.1 billion (US$50 billion).

Merging the two firms would create the world's sixth-largest mobile operator, with more than 130 million subscribers in nearly two dozen countries.

A source who spoke to the paper confirmed the timing of the closure of the deal but declined to provide details.

A spokesman from Bharti declined comment.

The Financial Times said last week that Bharti had made an indicative bid to buy 51% of MTN, making it India's biggest overseas acquisition.

While MTN is being advised by Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank , the FT said Standard Chartered was advising Bharti.

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