The MTN Group announcement was fairly undemonstrative. Its headline referred to a “Withdrawal of cautionary announcement”. However, the headline on the MyBroadband site was more typical of the media response to the end of talks between the two South African operators MTN and Telkom. It said: “Telkom share price tanks 25% as MTN bails on takeover talks.”
Whatever your interpretation, it’s clear that, as Telkom, in its own announcement, put it: “After extensive engagements and deliberations between the parties, shareholders are advised that the discussions regarding the Proposed Transaction have terminated, as the parties were unable to reach agreement to their mutual satisfaction on the process going forward.”
A clue to the reasoning behind the announcement came in the Telkom comment that “Telkom was not in a position to provide MTN with assurances around exclusivity.”
It pointed out, however: “Discussions were at an early stage and had not progressed to due diligence nor had a binding offer been received by the Telkom board of directors.”
MTN and Telkom had reportedly been in discussions regarding MTN acquiring Telkom’s entire issued share capital in return for shares or a combination of cash and shares in MTN since July. However, as we reported in early October, Telkom also received an offer from FWA operator Rain proposing that Telkom acquire Rain in exchange for shares.
As rumours that negotiations on the price and terms of a deal between MTN and Telkom had stalled had been around for a while, this news may not come as a major surprise, though it’s hard to say for certain whether the Rain intervention is the reason. There has also been trade union opposition to a merger, for example.
However, reports about Telkom’s share price falling are undeniable. Following the announcement of MTN’s bailing on the talks, Telkom’s share price did indeed decline by 25%.