Vodafone merging India business with local rival to create mobile giant

India's richest man on India's digital age

It’s official: Vodafone is combining forces with one of its top rivals in India to create the country’s biggest cell phone carrier.

The British telecom giant said Monday it’s merging its Indian operations with those of local competitor Idea Cellular after months of talks.

Vodafone will own a stake of about 45% in the new business, sharing control with Idea’s owner, the Aditya Birla Group.

The deal will give both companies a leg up in India’s cut-throat telecom market.

The entry of new player Reliance Jio last year — bankrolled by India’s richest man who offered six months of free 4G internet — set off a price war that left Vodafone, Idea and industry leader Bharti Airtel scrambling. Last November, Vodafone reported a $5 billion loss in India as a result.

Monday’s deal will allow the U.K.-based firm to reduce its exposure to the troubled Indian business, it said.

CNNMoney (New Delhi) First published March 20, 2017: 2:24 AM ET

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