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MTN at Crossroads as Nhleko Seeks Deals for African Champion

MTN Group Ltd., the South African telecommunications company that’s assembled an emerging-markets mobile empire through acquisitions, is on the hunt for more takeovers. Its biggest obstacle may be domestic politicians.

Led by Chairman Phuthuma Nhleko, Africa’s largest carrier is seeking transformational deals that could take it beyond the continent and the Middle East, according to people familiar with the situation. That ambition has been frustrated twice before, most publicly when a $23 billion merger with India’s Bharti Airtel Ltd. failed amid government opposition five years ago.