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Report: Airtel parent drops interest in Tata's telecom, DTH units

Bharti Enterprises Ltd. has decided to end its talks with Tata Group to combine their telecom, direct-to-home and overseas cable and enterprise services businesses, The Economic Times of India reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

While the merger was reportedly discussed among the "highest leadership forums" of the Bharti group, it was not clear if the company's board had rejected a formal proposal from Tata Group.

The two Indian conglomerates were supposedly considering a merger of Tata Teleservices Ltd., Tata Sky Ltd. and Tata Communications Ltd. with Bharti Airtel Ltd. and its DTH unit airtel Digital TV.

Bharti will now focus on a stake sale in Bharti Airtel's tower arm Bharti Infratel Ltd. and on closing deals such as the takeover of Telenor ASA unit Telenor India, according to the report.

Singaporean operator Singtel, which owns more than one-third of Bharti Airtel, was keen on acquiring the enterprise businesses of Tata Teleservices and Tata Communications, the sources told The Economic Times. Singtel was not, however, comfortable with taking on the complexities of such a major "multiplay" buyout.

Meanwhile, Tata Group reportedly is also exploring the sale of its struggling telecom and related assets to Reliance Industries Ltd., which owns the newly launched telecom service Jio. However, the talks with Reliance INdustries may not progress, The Economic Times reported separately.