Telecoms operator Airtel has denied widespread reports that it is planning to Exit the African markets of Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. Instead, it said in a statement that it is open to a merger or acquisition to rescue its non-profitable stake in Africa.
The statement said: “We had stated that we are open to consolidation opportunities either through acquisitions or mergers, to create a viable business in these three (Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania) markets. It was never said that we were looking at exiting these markets.”
The statement further reaffirmed its mission to be either the first or second “operator in each country it operates “through market consolidation”.
The company said it had participated in consolidations in the past, including the acquisition of Yu in Kenya and Millicom in Ghana all of which “validates our stand that in-country consolidation has resulted in achieving better market positions”.
Airtel was prompted to respond after widely reported analysis by Goldman Sachs, recommending that the company should exit these three East African countries, adding that “Such asset sales could help Bharti reduce, leverage further and potentially help expand margins. The three countries where Bharti is looking for exits options have margins significantly lower vs the current Africa average”.
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