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Bharti says yet to find foreign telco target

Posted by Yogesh on Monday, 3 November, 2008

NEW DELHI, Nov 3 (Reuters) – India’s Bharti Enterprises, which controls the country’s top phone firm Bharti Airtel, is still open to acquiring foreign telecom assets but had no immediate target, its chairman said on Monday.

Sunil Mittal also said his group intended to reach $10 billion in annual revenue by 2010 from $6.2 billion at end-March 2008 and would like to cut its dependency on telecoms to about 50 percent in five years from 85 percent currently.

Bharti executives have earlier said the company was looking for a big international acquisition in the telecoms sector, especially in one of the developing economies.

“We remain in readiness. But I must confess that there has been no clear target identified yet,” Mittal, also the group chief executive, told reporters, adding that valuations of telecom firms had eased around the globe.

Earlier this year, Bharti held talks with South Africa’s MTN about a possible combination that would have created a global top 10 telecom firm, but no deal was reached.

Bharti Enterprises has a cash-and-carry joint-venture with world’s top retailer Wal-Mart and insurance and asset management ventures with France’s Axa.

The group aims to reach annual revenue of $10 billion by 2010 for the group, from 300 billion rupees ($6.2 billion) at end-March 2008, he said.

Bharti-Wal-Mart’s first cash-and carry store in India will open by March 2009, said the group’s vice chairman, Rajan Mittal.

Bharti on its own has so far opened 12 neighbourhood stores in northern India and is planning to launch medium-format stores in December and large-format stores next year, he said. Source Reuters

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