Bharti Airtel in line to acquire Loop

The Indian market leading operator Bharti Airtel is believed to be in discussions to buy a smaller rival operator, Loop Mobile.

Reportedly discussions have advanced in recent weeks, but there could well be regulatory hurdles to a proposed acquisition.

Loop operates in Mumbai, where it is the number four player with over three million subscribers. Currently, Airtel has a national subscriber base of over 190 million.

The key attraction for Airtel is that Loop holds 8MHz of spectrum in the 900MHz band. In the Mumbai circle, Airtel only holds spectrum in the 1800MHz band – much like Idea Cellular, which has been suggested as a potential alternative buyer for Loop.

However, there are potential complications for any buyer, as Loop’s licence is only valid for one more year and the cost of renewing it has not been clarified. In addition, the government could keep at least some of the 900MHz spectrum and instead issue a replacement licence covering different frequencies.

Currently, India’s Department of Telecoms is revising the regulation concerning mergers & acquisitions, with operators – including Telenor – reluctant to commit to any deals before the rules have been finalised.


Sign-up to our weekly newsletter

Keep up-to-date with all the latest news, articles, event and product updates posted on Developing Telecoms.
Subscribe to our FREE weekly email newsletters for the latest telecom info in developing and emerging markets globally.
Sending occasional e-mail from 3rd parties about industry white papers, online and live events relevant to subscribers helps us fund this website and free weekly newsletter. We never sell your personal data. Click here to view our privacy policy.