British mobile phone giant Vodafone has announced it will merge its Indian unit with Idea Cellular to create the Asian nation's largest telecoms operator, demoting current market leader Bharti Airtel to second place.
The UK's Vodafone said Monday it would merge its Indian subsidiary with rival Idea Cellular.
"The combined company would become the leading communications provider in India, with almost 400 million customers, 35 percent client market share, and 41 percent revenue market share," the companies said in a joint statement.
The tie-up will be a merger of India's second- and third-largest telecoms networks. Current leader Bharti Airtel has 269 million subscribers.
The joint venture was said to have a combined value of $23.2 billion (21.57 billion euros), with the merger expected to be finalized within two years.
"This landmark combination will enable the Aditya Birla Group [Idea's parent company] to create a high-quality digital infrastructure that will transition the Indian population toward a digital lifestyle and will make the government's Digital India vision a reality," Birla said in a press release.
Digital India aims to universalize mobile and internet access in the country.
Shares in Idea initially soared on Monday, but tanked later in the day by almost 7 percent as reports suggested that investors were worried the merger deal may have undervalued the Indian mobile telecoms provider.
hg/nz (dpa, AFP)