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Report: India's Bharti Airtel in discussions to acquire Telkom Kenya

Indian telco giant Bharti Airtel Ltd. is in talks to acquire Telkom Kenya Ltd. to create a stronger rival to Safaricom PLC, Kenya's market leader, three industry sources told Reuters.

Airtel, the second-biggest telecom operator in the East African country, is reportedly holding discussions with Helios Investment Partners LLP, owner of a 60% stake in Telkom Kenya. According to sources, the London-based private equity firm is looking to partly cash out its investment in Telkom Kenya.

If the deal pushes through, the transaction is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter.

The news comes shortly after Bharti Airtel agreed to give part of its stake in Airtel Tanzania Ltd. to the Tanzanian government.

In 2018, Bharti Airtel's Kenya unit ditched plans to merge with Telkom Kenya due to "cold feet." The proposed merger reportedly broke down over a number of issues, including Airtel's refusal to commit to making significant future investments in the company.