June 2 MTN's (MTNJ.J) top two shareholders --
South Africa's state pension fund PIC and Lebanon's influential
Mikati family -- have both in principle backed a possible merger
between the South African mobile company and India's Bharti
Airtel (BRTI.BO) that could create the world's No. 3 mobile firm
* The Public Investment Corporation is owned by the South
African government and manages civil servant pension funds.
* It is South Africa's biggest fund manager with assets
worth 786.8 billion rand ($98.84 billion) at March 31 2008.
* It holds 21 percent of MTN after a complex black economic
empowerment deal that became effective last month, making it the
company's biggest shareholder.
* CEO Brian Molefe told Reuters he supported an MTN-Bharti
deal in principle, but wanted a better price [ID:nL21014136]
* With sizeable stakes in many of South Africa's blue-chip
firms, the PIC is extremely powerful. Molefe has used his
leverage to lobby for greater black representation at an
executive and shareholder level.
* The local Financial Mail weekly reported Molefe, viewed as
close to former president Thabo Mbeki, could face pressure to
quit under the new government of Jacob Zuma. Molefe told Reuters
his contract expires in March 2010, adding he would consider
staying longer. [ID:nWEA5153]
* Under Molefe, the PIC has backed other foreign takeovers
of South African heavweights, including Vodafone's (VOD.L)
recent takeover of Vodacom (VODJ.J).
THE MIKATI FAMILY
* The family is led by brothers Taha, 60, and Najib, 54.
Both were ranked 334 on Forbes billionaires list for 2009, worth
$2 billion each.
* They are Sunni Muslim from Lebanon's northern city of
* The two men founded telecom company Investcom at the
height of Lebanon's civil war in 1982, which pioneered mobile
phone services first in Lebanon and then in emerging markets.
* After listing on the London and Dubai stock exchanges, the
Mikati family sold Investcom to MTN for $5.5 billion in 2006.
* The family runs M1 Group, a multi-billion dollar
conglomerate invested in real estate, Geneva airline Fly Baboo
and fashion line Facconable, as well as oil and gas.
* The Mikati family owns about 10 percent of MTN via the M1
Group [ID:nLT023744]. Taha's son Azmi Mikati sits on MTN's
* While Taha is seen as the leader of the family's business
empire, Najib entered politics in 1998 when he was appointed a
cabinet minister. He was prime minister for three month after
the assassination of billionaire statesman Rafik al-Hariri in
* Najib is running in Sunday's Lebanon general election and
is set to be elected to parliament for the first time. He is
among the favourites to become prime minister again.
Sources: Reuters News, PIC website www.pic.gov.za, M1 Group
(Reporting by Gugulakhe Lourie in Johannesburg and Nadim Ladki
in Beirut; Editing by David Cowell)