According to a New York Times report, phone carriers Bharti Airtel and MTN Group have announced plans to join forces. The companies have apparently agreed on a stock and cash swap, the initial stride toward a full merger. If everything comes to fruition, India's largest cellular company, Bharti, would effectively add to its 100 million subscribers 49% of MTN which has an equivalent number of customers throughout Africa and the Middle East. Consequently, MTN would acquire 36% of Bharti Airtel and both companies plan to fully merge in the future.

The MTN-Bharti Airtel combination would result in $20 billion annual revenue and 200 million subscribers, only to be topped by China Mobile and Vodafone in customer numbers. Bharti Enterprises' chairman, Sunil Bharti Mittal, called the deal "a shining example" of cooperation between South Asia and South Africa. The chief executive over at MTN, Phuthuma Nhleko, said the deal would "create a highly visible commercial partnership between South Africa and India."

Many companies in established economies are struggling to keep afloat and seeking ways to cut costs. However, those relying on developing economies like India or Africa for their primary sales have yet to feel the full brunt of the storm. Both companies have just recently passed the 100 million-customer mark. Mr. Mittal said in an interview last month, that his goal was to build one of the world's "largest and most successful telecom companies."