French operator Orange has revealed that it is in talks to buy Bharti Airtel’s subsidiaries in Africa, fueling speculations that Bharti’s might soon sell off its African business.
However, the Indian cellphone biggest carrier has rebutted the claims.
“We remain fully committed to our Africa operations and will continue to invest in its growth and building a profitable business and accordingly have no plan to exit,” a statement from the company says.
Airtel had big plans for Africa—a target of 100 million subscribers, up from 42 million at the time of acquisition, $5 billion in revenue, up from $3.6 billion, and $2 billion of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) which is a measure of a firm’s profitability. By March 2013, less than three years after the acquisition, long-time lieutenant of Mital, Manoj Kohli moved to Nigeria to head the new business.
But it has never met these targets and now it looks like Bharti may have bitten off more than it could chew.