Idea Cellular and Vodafone have cleared the last regulatory hurdle to merge their operations in India, a source told Reuters, opening the way for the creation of a new market leader in the fiercely competitive country.
Vodafone, the world`s second biggest mobile operator, entered India in 2007 amid much fanfare but has struggled almost since its arrival due to the extremely low pricing and a long-running tax battle.
The two groups announced the deal in March last year to create a player with a combined base of around 400 million customers, overtaking Bharti Airtel and accounting for about 40 percent of revenue in the market.
The deal showed how India`s mobile industry - the world`s second biggest market by users after China - has been transformed by the launch of Reliance Jio Infocomm`s 4G mobile broadband network.
Built at a cost of more than $20 billion by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, Jio has forced India’s three biggest operators - Bharti, Vodafone and Idea - to slash prices and accept lower profits, and sparked a wave of consolidation.
According to the source who asked not to be named because the approval is not public, India`s National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has now approved the merger. Vodafone had set the end of August - or Friday - as its target to close the deal.
Idea, a part of the Aditya Birla conglomerate, and Vodafone both declined to comment.
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