Bharti Airtel to buy Telenor India unit in response to Jio onslaught


Bharti Airtel, India’s largest telecom network operator, is buying Norwegian Telenor’s India unit, in yet another consolidation move in India driven by upstart rival Jio’s disruptive pricing.


Bharti Airtel said on Thursday it will buy Telenor (India) Communications Pvt Ltd, as part of which it will acquire the Norwegian company’s operations in six Indian states. It did not disclose financial terms of the deal.


The entry late last year of Reliance Industries’ wireless carrier Jio into India’s crowded telecom sector with its free voice and deeply discounted data plans has pushed rivals to slash costs, sharply eroding their profits.


Bharti Airtel reported its lowest profit in four years in the October-December quarter while No. 3 player IdeaCellular posted its first-ever quarterly loss for the same period.


Jio’s gameplan is also sparking consolidation moves.


Britain’s Vodafone Group said last month it was in talks to merge its Indian subsidiary with Idea Cellular to create India’s largest mobile operator with about $12 billion in sales.

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