The Lusaka Stock Exchange said on Monday it had rejected a move by Indian group Bharti Airtel's to delist its Celtel Zambia unit, without giving a reason.

Analysts said the delisting would have been a negative for the small, southern African bourse.

Bharti Airtel had applied to delist Celtel Zambia following a mandatory offer to buy out minority shareholders that raised its shareholding to almost 97 percent.

Celtel shares, suspended in August following Bharti's acquisition, were due to resume trading soon, the exchange said.

The delisting of Celtel's shares would likely have sent negative signals about the prospects for capital markets and the economy in Zambia, said Chibamba Kanyama, an economist and member of Zambia's largest economic think-tank, the Economics Association of Zambia.

Bharti Airtel together with Zambeef, currently top the list of the shares that portfolio investors seek to invest in, Kanyama said. He said Bharti may now reoffer shares it bought from minority shareholders.

Bharti Airtel acquired 79 percent of the Zambian unit when it bought the African assets of Kuwaiti group Zain last year. It made an offer to buy out minority shareholders in November, in accordance with local law.

Under local rules, companies are usually delisted if a single shareholder owns more than a 95 percent stake.