The proposed merger of Sistema Shyam Ltd's operations into Reliance Communications (RCom) has received a nod from the Competition Commission of India (CCI). The approval paves way for the first major consolidation in the intensely competitive sector since 2009.
"We wish to inform you that the Competition Commission of India (CCI) has approved transfer of telecommunications undertaking of Sistema Shyam Teleservices Ltd to the company," Reliance Communications said in a BSE filing.
The acquisition was announced in November last year. As per the deal, RCom is acquiring Sistema's Indian telecom unit in an all-stock deal that will create an operator with 118 million subscribers. In addition, SSTL will hold about 10 per cent stake in RCom and pay off its existing debt before closing the deal.
Prior to the CCI approval, the Bombay High Court has admitted an application seeking a merger between RCom and SSTL after which the the court had asked RCom to convene a meeting of shareholders on March 8.
The deal will give RCom access to 850 MHz airwaves that can be used for 4G services which it plans to start by the year-end. The deal will not just help RCom compete with the existing players but consolidate its position ahead of Mukesh Ambani's foray into the sector with 4G services under the Reliance Jio brand later this year. RCom recently said that it entered into merger talks to acquire domestic wireless business of Aircel, which is the country’s fifth largest mobile carrier with pan-India operations. It had then said that the discussions were "non-binding" in nature, and will exclude RCom's towers and optical fibre infrastructure.