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Telecom consolidation: Telenor India to merge operations with Bharti Airtel

Airtel today announced that it has entered into an agreement with Telenor South Asia Investments Pte Ltd to acquire Telenor India for an undisclosed amount. The proposed acquisition will transfer of all of Telenor India’s assets, licenses, and customer base of 44 million into Airtel including Telenor’s active operations in 7 circles— Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Gujarat, UP (East), UP (West) and Assam. Both companies had entered into discussions last month, and that time an ET Now report pegged the size of the deal at $350 million. Airtel is set to acquire close to 43.4 MHz of additional spectrum in the 1800 MHz band through the acquisition deal. Airtel will additionally take over all outstanding spectrum payments and other operational contracts, including tower lease contracts. Telenor India’s operations and services will continue to operate independently until the completion of the transaction. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approvals from the department of telecommunications and Competition Commission of India and is expected to close within the next 12 months. Note that during Q4 2016, Telenor lost 689,000 subscribers and another 185,000 users in Q3 2016 post launch of Jio. At that time, the company mentioned that it was evaluating options in India. Telenor India also skipped 2016 spectrum auctions stating that the reserve prices did not give “an acceptable level of return.” Airtel's acquisitions Bharti Airtel, on the other hand, has been focusing on 4G expansion to keep up with Jio. During 2016 auctions, Airtel acquired 173.8 MHz worth of spectrum. Recently it completed acquiring 20 MHz…

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