Bharti Airtel is acquiring Norwegian telecom operator Telenor’s Indian operations, the company said on Thursday. In a filing with stock bourses, Airtel said it would acquire Telenor India’s assets and that the move would help boost its spectrum footprint, Moneycontrol reported. Telenor India currently operates in seven circles – Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh (East) and Uttar Pradesh (West).
“The agreement underlines our commitment to lead India’s digital revolution by offering world class and affordable telecom services,” Airtel Managing Director and Chief Executive (India and South Asia) Gopal Vittal said. “On completion, the acquisition will undergo seamless integration, both on the customer as well as the network side, and further strengthen our market position.” However, the company did not reveal the financial details of its acquisition in the filing.
Separately, Telenor Group Chief Executive Officer Sigve Brekke said the agreement “is in the best interests of our customers”, NDTV reported. “Finding a long-term solution to our India business has been a priority for us, and we are pleased with our agreement with Airtel,” Brekke said. The acquisition also gives Airtel 52.50 million Telenor users. Currently, the firm has 269.40 million users across the country.
The move comes ahead of the expected merger of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular. Telecom operators have also been facing stiff competition from the Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Jio, which claimed it had reached 100 million subscribers in 170 days on Tuesday. Geojit BNP Paribas Head Investment Strategist Gaurang Shah said Jio’s aggressive tactics were taking a toll on incumbent telecom players. “We see a consolidation in the sector and there could be just three to four large players in the market,” he said.