India’s telecoms secretary claims that approval for the deal could be imminent

The long awaited merger between Vodafone India and Idea Cellular has reached the "final stage of approval", according to reports in the Indian press. 

Indian telecoms secretary, Aruna Sundararajan, told journalists at a Cellular Operators Association of India event that the Indian Telecoms Board "is in the process of expediting" the merger. 

The merger is expected to complete in the second quarter of 2018, with some industry experts eyeing a 1st of May completion date. 

The merger is being necessitated by India’s hyper competitive market conditions, which has seen previously profitable operators desperately looking to consolidate their positions. Vodafone Group recently announced a 23.1 per cent drop in its Indian business operations, as a direct result of the cut-throat market conditions.    

With key competitor Aircel filing for bankruptcy this month, the Indian market is undergoing a turbulent and tumultuous period of transition. Aircel’s filing for bankruptcy may provide a little more room for manoeuvre while the two companies await approval for their proposed merger. 

Vodafone India and Idea Cellular have both recently announced a series of managerial changes in preparation for the forthcoming deal.