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$23 bn Voda-Idea merger approved, 407 mn combined subs

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MUMBAI: Consolidation in the telecom sector seems to be progressing well, especially in the backdrop of big leaps by the new entrant Reliance Jio.

The Competition Commission of India reportedly approved US$23 billion Vodafone-Idea merger unconditionally, with no additional scrutiny. Idea and Vodafone had, in March 2017, decided to join hands to take on intense competition, eventually creating India's largest telecoms operator.

Vodafone India advisor Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas, in a statement, said the regulator had approved the merger. Idea advisor Trilegal stated that the merger would create significant efficiencies and synergies.

The combined entity would become the largest in terms of subscribers (over 407 million), revenue market share (41 per cent), subscriber market share (almost 34.50 per cent) and spectrum holdings (1850 Mhz). Market leader Bharti has over 278.60 million subscribers, around 35.6 per cent revenue market share (RMS), 23.59 per cent subscriber market share (SMS) and 1489 Mhz of spectrum holdings.

The regulator has sent the letters of approval to Idea and Vodafone. NCLT is the agency which will ensure the merger is in accordance with DoT and M&A guidelines.

Now, Idea and Vodafone will have to move to SEBI for required approvals.  Other regulatory approvals for the merger are reportedly anticipated in six months. Idea and Vodafone have assured the government they would return spectrum in whichever circle mandated.

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