Reliance Communications extends talks to buy Aircel from Maxis

Reliance Communications extends talks to buy Aircel from Maxis

Indian operator Reliance Communications has extended the deadline by 60 days for discussions about buying rival operator Aircel from Malaysia’s Maxis Communications.

At the same time talks are continuing between Reliance and the owners of a third company, MTS India, which is controlled by Russia’s Sistema group.

A three-way merger would bring together the fourth, fifth and ninth biggest operators in the overcrowded Indian market to give a combined market share of about 19%, less than Bharti Airtel at 24% and roughly equivalent to Vodafone, which also has 19%.

According to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of India, there were 1.01 billion mobile subscriptions in the country at the end of 2015, of which RCom had 9.98%, Aircel 8.47% and MTS 0.79%.

RCom issued a statement saying that there was “good progress” on talks with Aircel’s owners – Maxis owns 74% and the rest is owned by private equity group Sindya Securities.

As a result RCom “has extended the exclusivity period” with shareholders by 60 days, until 22 May, “to consider the potential combination of the Indian wireless business of RCom and Aircel and mutually derive the expected substantial benefits of in-country consolidation, including opex and capex synergies and revenue enhancement”.

RCom announced in late February that the Indian competition commission had approved its takeover of Sistema Shyam Teleservices, which trades under the MTS India name. The Russian government and the Shyam group of India are minority shareholders. Sistema is also the largest shareholder in the Russian operator MTS.

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