Indian operators Reliance Communications and Aircel have chosen to extend negotiations over a potential merger for another 60 days “based on good progress made so far”.
RCom first entered into non-binding talks with Aircel’s owners – majority shareholder Maxis Communications and investor Sindya Securities and Investments – in December 2015, with talks originally set to last 90 days. This exclusivity period has now been extended to May 22.
If the talks prove successful, the combined entity would become one of India’s top three operators, on level footing with current number two Vodafone India. RCom is currently the country’s fourth-placed operator.
RCom noted that the negotiations remain “non-binding in nature”, adding that “any transaction is subject to completion of due diligence, definitive documentation and regulatory, shareholder and other third party approvals. Hence, there is no certainty that any transaction will result”.
In February, unconfirmed reports indicated that RCom had agreed to an ownership structure that would have split the holding cleanly between RCom and Maxis, with each taking 50% of the resulting entity if the merger went through. Each operator would also transfer INR140 billion ($2.05 billion) of debt to the new company.
The potential merger between RCom and Aircel has raised the prospect of a three-way merger with Sistema Shyam Teleservices, which RCom agreed to acquire last year in a $690 million deal.