Two of India’s yet-to-launch mobile network operators, Etisalat DB (formerly Swan Telecom) and Allianz Infratech, have announced that they are to merge, the Economic Times reports. On completion of the tie-up the newly formed company will hold licences to operate in 15 of India’s 22 telecom circles, as Etisalat currently has 13 Universal Access Service Licences (UASLs) while Allianz has two. While existing merger and acquisition guidelines in India do not allow for the merger of two operators in the same service area, the circles for which the two companies have concessions do not overlap.
The Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is presently undertaking a consultation on the country’s merger and acquisition guidelines, which are expected to be altered to allow more readily for consolidation in the telecoms sector. However, as the Etisalat/Allianz proposals will not be impeded by existing restriction it is expected the tie-up could be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2010.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, UAE-based Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) acquired a 45% stake in Swan Telecom for USD900 million in a deal that valued the cellco at USD2 billion. It holds licences for Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Mumbai, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu), UP (East) and UP (West). Allianz Infratech meanwhile was issued its concessions for the Madhya Pradesh and Bihar circles with effect from 7 August 2008, after applying to the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for a pan-India licence in September 2007.