Indian market leader Bharti Airtel and its rival Reliance Jio Infocomm are separately attempting to generate funds via bond sales, seemingly with the goal of ending the price war that has been waging in the country since Jio entered the market in 2016.
Bharti Airtel is looking to bring in INR165 billion through the sales, while Jio is looking to sell bonds valued as high as INR200 billion. The two competitors are looking to shore up their positions in the Indian mobile market against the impending merger of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, which will create a new market leader.
Smaller players in the Indian mobile market have been winding down operations in the face of the fierce competition fomented by Reliance Jio’s aggressive discounts. When it launched in 2016, the group offered services for effectively free, alongside heavily reduced 4G tariffs.
Since the price war started, the market has seen massive upheaval: Telenor sold its Indian operations to Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Idea announced their merger, then Aircel and RCom tried and failed to merge. The former is now filing for bankruptcy while the latter is facing a legal battle with its creditors – although its attempts to sell its wireless assets have now been approved by India’s Supreme Court.