The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved a proposed merger between Aircel and the wireless unit of RCom (Reliance Communications).
The merger has received the approval of the Bombay Stock Exchange, the National Stock Exchange of India and the Securities and Exchange Board of India, but requires the green light from several other bodies before it can finally be closed.
Aircel’s subsidiary Dishnet Wireless will also be part of the deal, which has been under discussion by Aircel and Reliance since December 2015. The operators will each hold a 50% stake in the resulting entity once they have merged their wireless units, with the deal expected to close this year. While RCom will no longer operate any wireless assets following the merger, it will continue to operate in the enterprise, data centre and fibre optic spaces.
When RCom and Aircel’s merger talks first came to light, a combination of their wireless units would have been India’s third largest wireless provider, with 188 million connections. This would have placed it ahead of Idea, but behind Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India.
However, the market landscape has seen a seismic shift, with Vodafone and Idea unveiling plans for a merger that would see them combine to take the top spot in the market. Meanwhile, Bharti Airtel is acquiring Telenor’s Indian operations to increase its market share, and newcomer Reliance Jio has seen unprecedented uptake due to its free voice and data offers.