Idea Cellular has a bright one

Idea Cellular has announced it intends to raise €882 million of equity so it doesn’t have to sit at the kiddies table following the merger with Vodafone’s Indian business.

€425 million will be sold off to current shareholder Aditya Birla Group (ABG), increasing its stake in Idea from 42% to 47%, while the Idea board will explore other avenues to raise an additional €457 million. The cash, along with the proceeds from the sale of Vodafone’s and Idea’s standalone tower business, will be used to strengthen the balance sheet ahead of a renewed assault on the Indian market.

While the numbers are relatively complicated, we’ll try to break it down as simply as possible. Following the investment from ABG, the investment group will increase its stake to 26% of the merged entity, while Vodafone’s stake will stand at 47.5% upon completion of the deal. Due the conditions of the deal, Vodafone is also free to sell an additional 2.4% of the merged business without any restrictions. Anything below this will seemingly be subject to the approval of the other two.

Idea will own the rest of the business, but with the additional funds it raises to add to the war chest, it will at least have a bit more credibility when it comes to decision making on how to tackle the Reliance Jio problem. Two minds are better than one, and with ABG in the mix, lets hope that phrase extends to three. Another phrase we like concerns cooks and a broth.

While the merger was initially set to be completed towards the end of the year, progress is seemingly going better than expected. The Competition Commission of India has already approved the merger, accelerating the expected completion of the deal to the first half of the year.

Soon enough Bharti Airtel will be relegated to second place with the new Vodafone/Idea entity rising the ranks. Scale, both in terms of customers and network footprint, will certainly help address Jio, but improving the proportion of postpaid subscriptions in the developing market should be considered a top priotity. Jio is proving more successful than anyone else here, so thinking caps on.

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