Singaporean operator SingTel has confirmed its enthusiasm for consolidation in the Indian market, stating its express hope that the current number one Bharti Airtel will lead the charge.
SingTel chairman Simon Israel asserted that any move by Bharti towards consolidation would receive his company’s full backing.
SingTel holds a 32% stake in the Indian market leader, and would “play [its] role” if additional funding were required for any mergers or acquisitions, according to Israel. He added that India’s overly-competitive market “desperately needs consolidation. Globally, the mobile industry is a scale game.”
There are currently ten operators in India, with major telecom giants such as Bharti and Vodafone and larger state-owned companies complemented by smaller local players. Vodafone India CEO Martin Pieters has already dubbed his company a “natural consolidator” for the market.
New legislation concerning mergers & acquisitions are due imminently in India, with the expectation that they will have a dramatic impact on the number of operators in the market. This is largely due to the fact that foreign companies will now be allowed to hold full ownership of Indian operators as the government looks to encourage investment from overseas.
Israel welcomed this decision, adding that it would not only boost consolidation but also inject capital for network investment.