So much for emerging-market solidarity.
The apparent sticking point was that South Africa was eager to retain MTN's national character and had approached Indian authorities to consider a dual-listed entity, a structure that Indian laws currently do not allow.
The opportunity for a landmark deal in southern economic cooperation, one that would have created the third-largest wireless operator in the world, looks lost. After several failed attempts, it is the credibility of their respective governments, not the companies themselves, that is left in doubt.
The message from the South African government is that international buyers can invest in, but not control, the country's companies. UK mining conglomerate Xtrata has been a two-time loser there, having abandoned a takeover plan for Lonmin Plc, then met with roadblocks in its offer to buy Anglo American.
India has been more than willing to help its biggest companies push onto the multinational stage in cars, steel and technology. But international companies looking to buy into India have received rough treatment as well.
Every country seems quite happy to have their companies do the buying, but no one wants to see its national heroes sold.