Bharti Airtel is reportedly considering buying one of the smaller South African operators. Either Cell C or 8ta could be acquired by the Indian firm, allowing it to increase its African footprint. It is already present in 17 African nations, having purchased Zain’s African operation two years ago.
This would not be Airtel’s first foray into South Africa, with the firm’s bid to acquire MTN in 2009 proving unsuccessful – allegedly due to restrictions imposed by the country’s government.
8ta is owned by fixed-line incumbent Telkom South Africa. The operator has stated that Airtel has not expressed any interest in buying its mobile operation; however, as 8ta is still in its inception, Airtel’s investment capabilities would make it a good fit.
Cell C meanwhile has 9.3 million subscribers, making it the established number three operator. It would therefore cost a lot more for Airtel to acquire.