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Reliance Industries investigating Aircel acquisition

A new acquisition could be afoot in the highly competitive Indian market, with reports indicating that conglomerate Reliance Industries is eyeing a controlling stake in the mobile operator Aircel.

Reliance has reportedly undertaken “at least three round” of “advanced due diligence”, although Aircel – the seventh largest market player in India with 61 million subscribers - has publicly dismissed the rumours as “baseless” and “merely speculative”.

Despite this, there have been reports that the owner of Aircel – Malaysian firm Maxis - wishes to dispose of its stake in the company, and has accordingly been conducting negotiations with several potential buyers.

Although Reliance Industries – a separate entity from mobile player Reliance Communications, from which it split in 2005 – does not have a noteworthy mobile operation, it does own 95% of the ISP Infotel Broadband. Reliance last year purchased a majority stake in the firm, which operates India’s sole nationwide wireless broadband network.

With industry observers expressing doubt over Infotel Broadband’s viability as a standalone provider, it could be wise for Reliance Industries to acquire a telco as a means of offering a fuller complement of services.

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