Telcos apply for National Company Law Tribunal clearance of $23 billion merger.

Vodafone India and Idea Cellular inched closer to completing their $23 billion merger this week after India’s stock market regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), cleared the deal.

Idea Cellular made the disclosure in a stock exchange filing on Tuesday, and said the companies have applied for approval from the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT), Ahmedabad Bench.

The green light comes after India’s Competition Commission OK’d the deal in July.

According to an Economic Times report, the SEBI’s clearance is subject to approval by the NCLT, shareholders, and the outcome of an investigation into possible insider trading at Idea.

It emerged earlier this year that Pilani Investment and Industries, the investment arm of Idea parent Aditya Birla, bought shares in Idea ahead of the merger. The SEBI is investigating whether these transactions violated securities laws.

If the deal is eventually approved, it will create a new mobile giant with more than 407 million customers and 1,850 MHz of spectrum.

With that subscriber base, the combined entity would be the country’s largest mobile player by some margin, ahead of current market leader Bharti Airtel, which has 278.60 million customers, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

Bharti is also doing deals though, having agreed in February to acquire Telenor India. The addition of Telenor’s customer base would give Bharti nearly 327 million customers, cutting down Vodafone-Idea’s lead somewhat.

The SEBI gave its approval to the Bharti-Telenor deal in June.