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Bharti's futuristic call

Bharti Airtel’s acquisition of an undersea cable company does make sense given the stress on voice revenues

Bharti Airtel’s acquisition of Zain Telecom in 2010 for a sizeable $10.7 billion was met with a high degree of pessimism. Not only was the price high but there was uncertainty on how the Indian telco would tackle an unknown market like Africa, where it was buying Zain’s assets in 17 countries. That apprehension has not been entirely unfounded and after six years, Airtel has not had it easy. Africa remains a thorn in Airtel’s flesh, with the operation continuing to be in the red. The company has either had to sell telecom towers in the continent or just exit its operations in countries like Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone, with the intention of cutting losses.