Bharti Airtel may be looking to acquire NetOne, a telecom operator in Zimbabwe, reports Bloomberg, citing a statement from NetOne’s managing director Reward Kangai. The report sates that at least six companies, including MTN, have contacted them, looking to pick up stake in the state owned telecom operator. Airtel, on being contacted by MediaNama, has declined to comment on the report. Bloomberg had reported in March that the company had received a government clearance for raising foreign investment.
NetOne is the second largest telecom operator in Zimbabwe, with 1.3 million subscribers, according to statistics from Zimbabwe’s telecom regulator POTRAZ, but is at a fraction of Econet’s subscriber base of 4.2 million.
Zimbabwe is one of the markets where Airtel doesn’t have a presence. Last year the company entered Africa by acquiring Zain’s Africa operations in 15 countries: Burkina Faso, Congo B, Congo (DRC), Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Uganda; it later acquired Telecom Seychelles to take its total to 16 countries.
A few days ago, the Economic Times had reported that Indian state owned telecom operator MTNL was in talks to acquire 51% stake in Zimbabwe’s landline operator TelOne, though there have been reports denying that.