Ax­i­ata, Holder of Idea Stake, Wel­comes Merger Talks

The Economic Times - - The Telecom Files - Our Bureau

Kolkata: Malaysia’s Ax­i­ata Group, a strate­gic share­holder in Idea Cel­lu­lar, has wel­comed the merger talks be­tween the Ku­mar Birla-owned telco and UK’s Voda­fone Group Plc in In­dia. “Ax­i­ata wel­comes and sup­ports the con­sol­i­da­tion of In­dia’s tele­coms mar­ket,” the Malaysian car­rier said in an of­fi­cial state­ment on Tues­day. It said “there have been many dis­cus­sions among in­dus­try play­ers, es­pe­cially re­cently on the state of the (In­dian) telecom in­dus­try”. Ax­i­ata owns a 20% stake in Idea. Its com­ments came a day af­ter Voda­fone In­dia and Idea said they were in pre­lim­i­nary dis­cus­sions for a cash­less deal to merge their op­er­a­tions.

For­merly Telekom Malaysia, Ax­i­ata, did not re­spond to ET’s spe­cific queries on whether it would in­crease its stake in Idea pro­por­tion­ately to main­tain a 20% own­er­ship in the merged Idea-Voda­fone en­tity, go­ing for­ward.

Ac­cord­ing to re­cent news re­ports, Ax­i­ata was look­ing to sell its 20% stake in Idea Cel­lu­lar as it ex­pected the In­dian telco’s val­u­a­tion to re­main sub­dued for at least the next three years due to likely price war stem­ming from Reliance Jio In­fo­comm’s en­try into the sec­tor last Septem­ber.

Ax­i­ata for­ayed into In­dia in 2006 with an in­vest­ment in Spice Telecom. It sub­se­quently backed Idea’s ac­qui­si­tion of the Punjab-based op­er­a­tor, pay­ing just short of $2 bil­lion in 2008 for its stake.

For­merly called Telekom Malaysia, Ax­i­ata holds 20% stake in Idea Cel­lu­lar

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