By Ian Walker
LONDON-- Vodafone Group on Monday said it is in talks to merge its Indian unit with the country's third-largest mobile operator, Idea Cellular Ltd., as the British company battles tough competition in one of its biggest markets.
The U.K.-based company said it is in talks with the Aditya Birla Group, which controls Idea, about an all-share merger but cautioned there was no certainty a deal would be done. It also added that any deal would exclude its 42% stake in Indus Towers.
Vodafone, the world's second-biggest mobile carrier by subscribers, was responding to media speculation. The Times of India earlier reported the two companies were in merger talks.
Vodafone holds the No. 2 position in India but is under pressure from lower-cost rivals, prompting it to write down the value of the business by EUR5 billion ($5.35 billion) late last year.
New mobile carrier Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., funded by India's richest man, has offered free service for at least a month to get new customers.
Vodafone's chief financial officer, Nick Read, said at the time of the write-down in November that the company was still prepared for an initial public offering of its Indian unit but was waiting for market conditions to improve.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 30, 2017 04:25 ET (09:25 GMT)
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