SingTel wants in on Bharti-MTN deal

SingTel is shaping up as a linchpin of the $20 billion Bharti-MTN merger.

If the deal goes through, SingTel’s stake in Bharti would fall from 30% to 19% and it would hold a 10% share in MTN. The merger is structured as a cross-holding by the two cellcos because of political sensitivities in South Africa.

SingTel has welcomed the deal because it takes it into the fast-growing African market and reportedly it would be a ready buyer of Bharti stock from MTN shareholders wanting to sell out.

The spokesperson for the Singapore telco would not confirm the report.

But sources close to the deal said they expected MTN investors to unload as much as 11% of Bharti shares after the transaction, said

“If any of those MTN investors want to dump their new Bharti shares then SingTel would be seriously interested in taking it off their hands,” a source told

This would help support Bharti’s share price in the event of massive sell-off by South African investors.

MTN’s biggest investor, Public Investment Corporation, a government pension fund, who holds 21% of the stock, supports the deal but is seeking a better price, said

SingTel said in a statement it would “remain a significant shareholder” in Bharti after any transaction was completed.