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Bharti Airtel In Talks With Essar To Buy yuMobile In Kenya: Report


Bharti Airtel is in talks with Essar to take over yuMobile in Kenya, which will be its third acquisition in Africa, reports ET Now. According to its sources, the deal will be in the sub-$100 million one, ranging somewhere around $70-75 million and is expected to be closed in 2-3 months.

yuMobile is the third biggest operator in Kenyan market with 11% marketshare and if the acquisition goes through, Airtel would become the second biggest player in that market by a substantial margin. However, Essar informed ET Now that it is in talks with investors to expand operations of yuMobile and is not looking for any sale at the moment.

Essar started in Africa with a joint venture in Kenya with Zimbabwe-based Econet Wireless International, and then with Kenyan Telecom Uganda Ltd, in which it had increased ownership from 35% to 80%, in 2009.

Last month, Airtel had signed a definitive agreement to acquire Warid’s Congo Brazzaville business in November, giving it a combined user base of 2.6 million customers in Congo Brazzaville – 1.6 million with Airtel and 1 million with Warid. The company claims this acquisition makes Airtel the market leader in the country, although note that the acquisition is subject to regulatory and statutory approvals. Previously it had bought out Warid’s Uganda business in April 2013.

Airtel currently has a presence in 17 African countries and claims to be the largest telco in the continent with over 66 million customers for the quarter ended September 2013. In March 2013, Airtel had also increased its stake in Airtel Nigeria to 79.06%, purchasing 13.36% stake from existing shareholders.

The company had reported revenues of $1.12 billion for the quarter ended September 30, 2013, up 2% year-on-year (YoY) from $1.1 billion in the same quarter last year. Net revenue grew by 6.1% YoY to $934 million for the quarter from $881 million in the same quarter last year. Africa revenues currently accounts for 94% of Airtel’s International revenues. Its operations in Africa grew by 16.1% YoY & 18.5% QoQ in INR terms, while the Net Revenue in Africa has grown by 20.7% YoY in INR terms. Africa revenues currently accounts for 94% of Airtel’s International revenues.

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Recently, Airtel had also partnered mobile games company Nazara Technologies to launch a mobile gaming subscription service ‘Airtel Games Club’, in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda & Zambia.

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