Saturday, 21 October 2017

Bharti shareholders approve Telenor takeover

By Mary Lennighan, Total Telecom
Friday 22 September 17

India's biggest mobile operator makes progress in its bid to merge with smaller rival, as Reliance Jio streaks ahead in terms of net adds

Bharti Airtel's shareholders have voted overwhelmingly in favour of the company's proposed acquisition of rival Indian mobile operator Telenor. At a meeting convened on Tuesday, 99.98% of Bharti Airtel's equity shareholders approved the merger…

Bharti Airtel's shareholders have voted overwhelmingly in favour of the company's proposed acquisition of rival Indian mobile operator Telenor.

At a meeting convened on Tuesday, 99.98% of Bharti Airtel's equity shareholders approved the merger, while at a separate meeting 100% of unsecured creditors polled also gave their assent, the telco revealed in a filing to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

The deal still requires certain regulatory approvals.

Bharti agreed to acquire Telenor's Indian business for an undisclosed sum in February, attracted particularly by the smaller player's 1800-MHz spectrum holdings.

Presuming the merger gets the green light from the relevant authorities, it will also boost the market leader's customer base.

Bharti Airtel had 281.25 million mobile customers at the end of July, according to the latest figures from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), giving it a market share of 23.7%.

Telenor's customer base has been in decline in recent months, but at the same date it had 47.06 million subscribers or just under 4% of the market.

The Bharti/Telenor tie-up is one of a number of ongoing mergers and acquisitions in India, where smaller players are steadily being squeezed out, unable to compete effectively with their larger rivals.

Despite the addition of Telenor's customers to its base, Bharti looks set to lose its position as India's largest mobile operator once Vodafone completes its US$23 billion merger with Idea Cellular.

Together the pair would have a xx million strong customer base and a cc% market share, based on the TRAI's July statistics.

Meanwhile, market newcomer and disruptor Reliance Jio Infocomm is still performing strongly. It added 5.22 million customers in July alone, taking its subs base to 128.58 million and its market share to 10.83%. Its net adds far outstripped Bharti's, which came in at just over 600,000.

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