As expected, MTN and India's Reliance Communications have called off negotiations around creating a new mega-telco in emerging markets.
Late on Friday afternoon, MTN released an announcement stating: "Owing to certain legal and regulatory issues, the parties are unable to conclude a transaction.
"Accordingly, it has been mutually decided to allow the exclusivity agreement to lapse."
MTN shares fell in early morning trade on Monday.
The exclusive talks were centred around creating a merged organisation that would be one of the largest telecommunications operators in the developing world.
However, talks were scuppered over a family fued within the Reliance group, where there was no clear legal route forward.
Analysts believe that, while we may never know the real reasons why the deal fell through, it seems certain that MTN will continue to consider other possible suitors and earmark possible targets. The question is: who will MTN turn to next?
“We believe that MTN should continue its pursuit of emerging markets,” says Frost & Sullivan ICT industry analyst Lindsey Mc Donald. “The company has proven that it is truly an expert in this type of market, and its aggressive expansion into Africa and the Middle East are evidence of this.”
The $2-billion worth of funding from Standard Chartered to develop its operations in the Nigerian market was a real vote of confidence in the operator's ability to be successful in tough markets, and this is a telling sign of the company’s strengths. The negotiations with first Bharti and subsequently Reliance during the past six months further demonstrate the confidence and enthusiasm with which the market views MTN.
“Frost & Sullivan expects that Latin America could be the next big area of interest for MTN,” Mc Donald says. “Its market characteristics are similar to those of Africa, the mobile market has demonstrated robust growth and there are operators present there that could be good targets or partners going forward. America Movil is one possibility.”