Bharti & MTN Call it Off

MTNBharti Airtel and MTN have walked away from a long-in-the-works affiliation that could have created the world's third-largest mobile operator.  Bharti, India's biggest mobile operator, and South-Africa based MTN, Africa's biggest, were discussing mutual investment that would likely have led to a merger.  It's not entirely clear why the deal collapsed, but it appears the companies were having trouble navigating their respective legal systems, ant MTN was facing pressure from within the government, where forces wanted the company to retain its South African identity.

AirtelThis is big news for both African and Indian wireless industries, and, I have to say, probably bad news for most consumers (or prospective consumers)-- particularly in Africa.  Bharti has done an extraordinary job creating a successful business model for bringing wireless access to underserved parts of India.  A merger may have gone a long way to similarly connecting all Africans-- even those currently way off the grid-- to mobile networks.