MTN and Bharti Airtel have done it again: after months of wrangling, the two companies have decided to call off the proposed merger that could have resulted in a R20-billion developing countries telecommunications powerhouse.
Bharti says at least part of the reason talks have broken down is that the South African government doesn't want to accept the terms of the deal.
It hasn't completely closed the door, however, and would return to the negotiating table if government were to change its stance.
This is the second time the two companies have been in prolonged talks, and the second time they have walked away without a deal.
The news about the termination of the deal caused chaos on the JSE yesterday afternoon, and MTN shares were suspended at about 16:40.
The company eventually issued a very low-key statement at about 17:30, which reads as follows:
"Shareholders are referred to the cautionary announcement released on SENS on 25 May 2009 and to the renewals of cautionary announcement released on SENS on 6 July 2009 and 3 August 2009 concerning discussions regarding a potential transaction between MTN and Bharti Airtel Limited.
"Shareholders are advised that MTN and Bharti have not been able to conclude a transaction within the economic, legal and regulatory framework within which both companies operate. Accordingly, MTN and Bharti have mutually decided to terminate further discussions regarding the potential transaction.
"The MTN Board would like to thank all parties involved in these lengthy negotiations for the positive and constructive manner in which the negotiations were conducted. In particular, MTN expresses its appreciation to the South Africa and the Indian governments for their co-operation and supportive approach.
"Caution is accordingly no longer required to be exercised by shareholders when dealing in MTN securities.
"Trading in MTN securities will resume on the JSE at the commencement of trade on Thursday, 1 October 2009."