Indian telecoms consolidation sees fivefold M&A rise to $14.7bn

03 April 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

Consolidation in the Indian telecoms industry went up more than fivefold last year, largely thanks to the impact of Reliance Jio’s entry to the market in 2016.

According to an EY survey, mergers and acquisitions (M&As) in Indian telecoms shot up from $2.7 billion in 2016 to $14.7 billion in 2017.

This was the highest deal value for any sector in India over the past 10 years, reported the accountancy and consultancy firm.

And deals are likely to continue, suggested EY, with a number of operators likely to sell their tower infrastructure. The Indian government is also lifting limits on foreign ownership to 100%.

Spurred by Reliance Jio’s low-priced offers in the market, the industry has seen a number of mergers in India – including Vodafone’s merger with Idea Cellular – and a number of complete withdrawals.

The process is not yet complete, if last week’s rumours are accurate. Russian company Sistema appears poised to buy the remaining business of Reliance Communicatons (RCom) after Reliance Jio acquired the mobile spectrum and towers.

Sistema is believed to be the highest bidder for RCom’s enterprise and international business, including Global Cloud Xchange (GCX). Sources close to GCX and Sistema have confirmed that a deal is being negotiated, though it is not certain one will be agreed – especially as GCX runs international networks and will need wide scale approvals.