South African number two MTN is reportedly looking to increase the size of its international footprint via acquisitions outside of Africa and the Middle East regions, where it currently operates in 21 countries.
The operator could well bolster its presence in Africa, with rumours suggesting that it could acquire African operator Millicom International Cellular. However, it would perhaps be more likely to aim for providers in Asia in order to establish itself in this region. Speculation has pegged Indian Reliance Communications and Malaysia’s Maxis as two potential candidates.
Chairman Phuthuma Nhleko is reportedly the main impetus behind the group’s new drive for “transformational deals”.
However, the group has had previous merger attempts stymied by South Africa’s government – most notably five years ago when a mooted tie-up with Bharti Airtel was thwarted by official intervention.