Despite denials from both MTN and India's Bharti Airtel regarding buyout negotiations, the two companies are talking about the possibility of Bharti acquiring a majority share in MTN.
MTN issue a short statement yesterday evening, advising shareholders that the company "is engaged in discussions with Bharti Airtel Limited which, if successfully concluded, may have a material effect on the price of the company's securities.
"The discussions are exploratory in nature and may or may not lead to any transaction."
This follows denials from both companies after the UK's Financial Times (FT) last week speculated about a deal.
The FT now quotes an unidentified insider regarding a bid for 51% of MTN's shares at R165.00 per share – a deal that would value the African mobile operator at $37-billion.
The newspaper believes MTN is holding out for a higher offer – possibly closer to R180.00 per share – and has yet to open its books to Bharti.