Bharti Enterprises Chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal reckons that the merger of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, if takes place, is a ‘perfect match’, as their strength and weaknesses match very well, and can lead to a good business case.
In an interview to BloombergQuint on the sidelines of the 47th World Economic Forum at Davos, Mittal said, "It’s a perfect match... But you know I can’t sit on the minds of Vittorio or Kumar. The strength and weaknesses match very well. Rural - urban, structured portfolio...makes for a good business case and I would support it.
Earlier this month, Telegraph had reported that Vodafone was weighing a potential merger of its Indian arm with one of the top rivals. The move, the report said, was aimed at a turnaround in the sub-continent’s cut-throat mobile market.
Telegraph reported that Vodafone was looking at the possibility of a tie-up with either Jio, or Idea, another of the top four providers. Jio and Idea could themselves combine, however, it had added.
The entry of Reliance Jio with disruptive free services has caused upheaval in the Indian market since its entry in September, leading to an intense competition in the country. The entry has also resulted in an increased merger and acquisition activity, essentially weeding out of smaller players from the industry.
On the competition, Mittal told the publication, "One effect of Jio has been that the small operators are gone. I support consolidation in the industry, wherever we have seen two-three operators with large markets, they have been profitable, they have been able to make large investments and give a lot of revenue to the government.
In the interview, Mittal also confirmed that Bharti Airtel is in talks with Norway-based Telenor for the latter's India operations.
"In India they have competed with us head-on. They created a lot of difficulties in 6-7 circles with a value play. But I think it is in the interest of India, to give a good exit to companies like Telenor rather than wasting all the efforts. So I would say we look at everything, But I think they are talking to many people not just us. So I don’t know what the outcome would be," Mittal was quoted as saying.