Vodafone Group Plc and Idea Cellular have reached an agreement to combine their operations in India (excluding Vodafone’s 42% stake in Indus Towers) to create India’s largest telecom operator.
The combined company would become the leading communications provider in India with almost 400 million customers, 35% customer market share and 41% revenue market share.
The brand strategy of the combined company will be developed in due course and will leverage customers’ affinity for both existing brands, built up over the past decade. The name of the combined listed company will be changed in due course.
The merger of Idea and Vodafone India is founded on a shared commitment to realise the Indian Government’s ‘Digital India’ vision and financial inclusion goals, delivering significant benefits to 1.3 billion Indian consumers and creating substantial value for all stakeholders.
By combining their respective businesses, Idea and Vodafone will establish a company with the scale and efficiency required to offer innovative and attractively priced mobile services, enhancing consumer choice in a highly competitive market with at least five major telecoms providers.
The combination of the two companies’ networks and spectrum holdings, together with continued investment, will accelerate the pan-India expansion of wireless broadband services on 4G/4G+/5G technologies to build capacity, supporting the expansion of digital content and IoT services and delivering a world-class broadband experience to customers.
The combined company will have sufficient spectrum to compete effectively with the other major operators in the market. It would hold 1,850 MHz, including circa 1,645 MHz of liberalised spectrum acquired through auctions.
It will be capable of building substantial mobile data capacity, utilising the largest broadband spectrum portfolio with 34 3G carriers and 129 4G carriers across the country.
Vodafone India’s strong presence in metro circles and Idea’s leadership in semi-urban and rural telecom markets will allow for nationwide leadership within Indian M&A guidelines.
In circles where both Idea and Vodafone India currently have a limited presence, the combined entity will become the leading challenger with the scale to compete more effectively and enhance consumer choice.
Aditya Birla Group Chairman, Kumar Mangalam Birla, said: “Throughout its history, the Aditya Birla Group has been synonymous with the task of nation building and driving inclusive growth in the country. This landmark combination will enable the Aditya Birla Group to create a high quality digital infrastructure that will transition the Indian population towards a digital lifestyle and make the Government’s Digital India vision a reality. For Idea shareholders and lenders who have supported us thus far, this transaction is highly accretive, and Idea and Vodafone will together create a very valuable company given our complementary strengths.”
Vodafone Group Plc Chief Executive, Vittorio Colao said: “The combination of Vodafone India and Idea will create a new champion of Digital India founded with a long-term commitment and vision to bring world-class 4G networks to villages, towns and cities across India. The combined company will have the scale required to ensure sustainable consumer choice in a competitive market and to expand new technologies – such as mobile money services – that have the potential to transform daily life for every Indian. We look forward to working with the Aditya Birla Group to create value for all stakeholders.”
The combined company will be able to draw on support from its two largest shareholders, Vodafone and the Aditya Birla Group,
(each a “Party” and collectively the “Parties”) to drive growth, investment and to create value for all stakeholders.
The Parties’ capabilities combine experience of running leading businesses across multiple industries and geographies, world-class expertise in telecoms with global scale, enterprise services, mobile money services and procurement and a deep understanding of – and strong relationships within – the Indian market.