Indian telecom operator Idea Cellular has said that the company’s name has been changed to Vodafone Idea Limited. The news comes hours after the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) approved the merger of Idea Cellular and Vodafone India, clearing the last hurdle to the creation of India’s largest mobile phone company with the most subscribers and revenue share, displacing Bharti Airtel, which has held the top spot for about 15 years.
The largest merger in the sector now leaves three major players — Bharti Airtel, Reliance Jio Infocomm and Vodafone Idea — to fight it out for over a billion subscribers in a market that is seeing surging demand for data amid rock-bottom tariffs as the country moves to 4G from 3G and smartphones become more affordable.
The NCLT approval gave the company the final go-ahead required for the registration of the merged entity, Vodafone Idea Ltd, which will remain listed. The new board will be constituted after registration with the Registrar of Companies (RoC). Some circle-level executives have been told that September 3 could be Day Zero of the combined entity.
The final approval came nearly two months after the June 30 deadline the two companies had set. Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao had said he expected the merger to close in August during a visit to India last month.
Analysts had underlined the importance of an early completion of the merger as both Vodafone India and Idea Cellular have been rapidly losing ground to Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Jio Infocomm. Jio, which officially launched services in September 2016, has dislodged both the Idea and Vodafone standalone entities on RMS.