Idea Cellular gets NCLT nod for merger with Vodafone India

NCLT approves Idea Vodafone merger proposal shares erase losses

The proposed merger between Idea Cellular and Vodafone India has got approval from the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT).

"The scheme is genuine, bona fide and in the interest of the creditors and the shareholders", said the NCLT Ahmedabad bench. Vodafone India is yet to receive approval from NCLT-Mumbai bench. The $23 billion deal, conceived in March a year ago in response to Reliance Jio's dominance in the telecom sector, is believed to be the largest transaction in the history of Indian M&A.

Last year, Vodafone and Idea, which are now India's No 2 and 3 telcos, had agreed to merge their operations to create the country's largest telecom operator worth more than $23 billion, with 35 per cent market share and 387 million users.

Idea Cellular had earlier said that the cost reduction from the merger in turn will be used to strengthen the customer base and provide high quality service to the customers.

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The Aditya Birla Group company had received the majority shareholders' nod for the merger approval in a meeting on October 12, 2017.

The proposed merger of Vodafone India and Idea will create an entity with a revenue of around Rs 77,500-80,000 crore besides eliminating duplication of spectrum and infrastructure capex, as per India Ratings and Research. The consolidation of Idea and Vodafone will leave only three or four big companies in the telecom industry, which will result in less competition and bigger revenues. Once the deal goes through, Vodafone will own 45.1% stake in the merged entity, while Idea Cellular will have 26 per cent.

The $23 billion merger deal between the two operators was estimated to come to a close in the first half of 2018. Of the remaining 28.9%, the public shareholding in the merged company will be a minimum of 25% of the total.

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