Orange in Talks to Buy Four Bharti Airtel Businesses in Africa

Orange SA is in talks to buy four of Bharti Airtel Ltd.’s African businesses as the French phone company looks at ways to push expansion in one of its fastest-growing markets.

Orange is discussing the possible acquisition of Bharti’s Airtel units in Burkina Faso, Chad, Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone, the companies said in a statement. The talks may not result in a deal, Paris-based Orange said.

Orange is taking advantage of a new, more flexible structure after creating a separate holding company for units serving Africa and the Middle East, where it’s forecasting revenue will jump 20 percent by the end of 2018. Orange already operates in 19 countries in Africa, which accounts for 11 percent of the company’s sales.

For Bharti, a disposal would raise funds as the New Delhi-based mobile-phone operator, India’s largest, invests to counter heavy competition for customers in its home market. Bharti sold phone-tower operating businesses in five African countries for more than $1.3 billion earlier this month, helping it reduce debt and cut costs.

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