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Vodafone and Idea refute Jio acquisition claims

Indian heavyweights Vodafone India and Idea Cellular have both shot down rumours that they are seeking a merger with Reliance Jio.

Jio’s entry into the Indian market in September has made waves, increasing competition and attracting 52 million subscribers in its first three months. The operator offered a selection of free services to lure customers, prompting rivals Bharti Airtel, Vodafone India and Idea Cellular to adopt similar tactics.

UK newspaper The Telegraph has connected these dots, suggesting that both Vodafone and Idea are interested in a potential move on Jio. However, a Vodafone source denied this, citing caps on the operator’s spectrum holding limits and revenue market share as proof that it could not entertain a merger. Idea has also refuted the claims.

Vodafone Group has funnelled money into its Indian unit to ensure its success, writing off a significant chunk of its debt with a payment and splashing out on 4G spectrum in October’s auction. In November, the group revealed that it had seen its Indian revenues increase this fiscal half (ending March 2017) and stated that it would undertake an IPO for the unit “as soon as market conditions allow”.

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