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Idea Cellular shares down 10% after Aditya Birla Group firm approves merger with Vodafone

Idea Cellular shares fell 9.22 percent to Rs 97.95 after gaining about 4 percent on announcing approval of merger with British telecom firm Vodafone’s India operations.

In what could be the biggest shake-up in the Indian telecom space, Aditya Birla Group company Idea Cellular and the India unit of British telecom service provider Vodafone announced a merger on Monday.

The move pips Bharti Airtel as the largest Indian telecom operator in terms of subscription base and revenues. Shares of Idea Cellular were trading 3.75 percent higher at Rs 112 at around 9.50 am on the BSE.

In a regulatory filing to the BSE, Idea Cellular said Vodafone will hold 45.1 percent in the merged entity, leaving 26 percent for the Indian partner. The balance will be held by the public.
“The promoters of Idea Cellular will have the right to acquire up to 9.5 percent acquire additional stake from Vodafone under an agreed mechanism with a view to equalise the shareholdings overtime,” the company informed the BSE.

“The Board of Directors believes that the proposed amalgamation will result in creation of India’s largest telecom operator with widest mobile network in the country and pan-India 3G/4G footprint,” the filing said.

As of December 31, 2016, Idea Cellular had 192 million subscribers while Bharti Airtel had 265.85 million and Vodafone India 204.7 million subscribers. Another operator, Aircel, had 91 million subscribers at the end of calendar year 2016.

Bharti Airtel was trading flat at Rs 348 and Reliance Jio-owner Reliance Industries was marginally down at Rs 1,297.

The BSE Sensex was trading 125 points lower at 29,523.

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