Etisalat plans to acquire Airtel's Sri Lankan unit
Deal negotiations have been going on for five months, report claims
India's Bharti Airtel plans to sell its Sri Lankan operation to UAE telco Etisalat, according to a report from the Hindu Business Line.
According to the report, the two companies have been negotiating for more than five months and are close to signing a deal. However, Manoj Kohli, managing director and CEO of Airtel's international operations, declined to comment.
Bharti Airtel launched its Sri Lankan operation in 2009 but has failed to gain significant traction and has just under 2m subscribers. Despite investing more than $300m in its rollout, the unit continues to make a loss, the report added.
Etisalat, which entered Sri Lanka in February 2010 through the acquisition of Tigo, a subsidiary of Millicom International Cellular, has performed well in the country, and is now the third biggest operator.
In February, Etisalat Sri Lanka and Alcatel-Lucent signed a joint agreement at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, to deploy an LTE-FDD in the country.
Bharti Airtel on the other hand, did not participate in Sri Lanka's LTE spectrum auction, raising doubts about its long-term commitment to the country.