August 31, 2018 / 5:18 AM / 3 months ago

Idea Cellular, Vodafone complete merger of India businesses

FILE PHOTO: A hotel employee clears a table after Vodafone Group and Idea Cellular news conference in Mumbai, India March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File Photo

(Reuters) - Idea Cellular Ltd IDEA.NS and Vodafone Plc (VOD.L) completed the merger of their India operations on Friday, creating the country’s largest telecom operator by subscribers and revenue after the entry of a new player sparked a bitter price war.

The merged entity would be a formidable rival to billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm, which has caused a widespread disruption in the domestic telecom industry.

Stiff competition triggered consolidation in world’s No.2 mobile phone market, with Vodafone and Idea agreeing to merge their operations in India in a $23 billion (£17.68 billion) deal last February.

The combined entity will have a revenue share of 32.2 percent in the market and a total customer base of around 400 million, racing ahead of Bharti Airtel (BRTI.NS), Idea said on Friday.

The entity’s board will have 12 directors, with Kumar Mangalam Birla as chairman and Balesh Sharma as chief executive officer.

Himanshu Kapania has stepped down as managing director of Idea Cellular, but will continue as a non-executive director on the merged entity’s board.

(This version of the story corrects combined entity’s revenue share in fourth paragraph to 32.2 percent from 40 percent)

Reporting by Sharnya G in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu

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