Bharti Airtel chairman eyes Aircel tie-up

Sunil Mittal reveals telcos have had 'conversations' in the past

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Aircel could be the latest Indian telco to find its way onto Bharti Airtel's shopping list, after the latter's chairman made it clear he was open to talks.

"Whenever there will be a possibility of a conversation, I have no doubt, we will be a part of that conversation," Sunil Mittal said in reference to Aircel in an Economic Times article on Monday, adding that "conversations have taken place in the past."

Aircel is thought to be looking for a way out of the mobile market following its unsuccessful bid to merge with rival Reliance Communications.

A report earlier this month claimed that Bharti Airtel is the most likely buyer for Aircel's customers. Aircel's infrastructure assets, including some 40,000 towers, are expected to be sold separately.

If Bharti Airtel were to pursue a deal, Aircel would join a growing list of telcos that have sold themselves in whole or part to India's current market leader.

Just last week, Bharti Airtel was linked with a possible move for certain Reliance Communication assets. RCom is selling off spectrum and fibre as part of a debt restructuring plan.

In October, Bharti agreed to acquire Tata Group's consumer mobile business, which includes spectrum and customers across 19 telecom circles.

In September, Bharti shareholders voted in favour of the operator's proposed acquisition of Telenor India, a deal that was first agreed in February.

Meanwhile last year, Bharti also bought spectrum from Aircel and Videcon.