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Idea-Vodafone India merger creates leader with 42% market share

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MUMBAI: Britain's Vodafone Group's Indian subsidiary and Aditya Birla Group's Idea Cellular, after eight months of discussion, have merged to create a new market leader better able to contest a brutal price war. The merger, expected to be completed in 2018, was necessitated due to the launch of Jio Infocomm that shook the Indian wireless telephony market with its low rates.

Idea Cellular on Monday approved the merger with Vodafone Mobile Services Limited and Vodafone. According to a statement, promoters of Idea and Vodafone will have the right to nominate three directors each.

The combined company would have almost 400 million customers, 35 per cent customer market share and 42 per cent revenue market share.

According to reports, Idea Cellular will hold 25% stake in the merged company. Vodafone will hold 45.1 per cent stake, and will transfer 4.9 per cent stake to Idea founders. The merger will require regulatory approval.

The equity value of the companies was estimated at Rs 40,000 crore each while the combined entity would have debt of around Rs 89,000 crore.

In a BSE filing, Idea Celluar announced its approval of amalgamation of Vodafone India Ltd (VIL) and its wholly owned subsidiary Vodafone Mobile Services Limited (VMSL) with the company subject to receipt of necessary approvals of shareholders, creditors, SEBI, RBI and other governmental authorities.

Idea release stated the proposed amalgamation may result in: Creation of the largest Indian telecom operator with widest mobile network in the country and pan India 3G/4G footprint. Sufficient spectrum to complete with major operators in the market while offering innovative priced mobile services to customers and acceleration of expansion of wireless broadband networks.

“The combination of Vodafone India and Idea will create a new champion of Digital India founded with a long-term commitment and vision to bring world-class 4G networks to villages, towns and cities across India,” said Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao.

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