Data-only network provider Rain has been ordered to withdraw its announcement that it wants to merge with Telkom, after the Takeover Regulatory Panel (TRP) ruled it illegal.

In a strongly worded statement, the TRP said a media release earlier Thursday was published without its approval, as required by law.

“Furthermore, the advertisement was published despite TRP Rain’s instructions that such advertisements should not be made without the prior approval of TRP,” the body said.

The TRP said it took the statement with “grave concern” and that it was illegal. Raine was instructed to withdraw the ad.

Telkom, meanwhile, told Bloomberg it had not received an offer or proposal from Rain. Telkom takes note of a media statement titled “Rain proposes to merge with Telkom,” the company said. “Telkom can confirm that no bids or offers have been received.”

In a statement, Rain said it had made a formal request to submit a proposal to Telkom’s board that would eventually lead to a merger between the two companies.

Last month, MTN and Telkom announced they were in initial talks on a deal that would see MTN buy Telkom in exchange for shares or a combination of cash and shares.

TRP reports to the Minister of Trade and Industry. It regulates transactions involving public companies.

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