India’s Bharti Airtel closed a deal to acquire spectrum from domestic rival Aircel in six out of eight regions, as it prepares for increased 4G competition from upstart Reliance Jio Infocomm.
In a stock exchange filing, Airtel said it had secured approval as part of a INR35 billion ($525 million) trading deal struck in April, which sees it take Aircel’s spectrum in Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Jammu, Kashmir, West Bengal, Assam and North East.
Deals in the two remaining regions, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, are yet to be completed.
According to the Economic Times of India, the country’s regulators cleared the sale of spectrum, which is in the 2300MHz band, last week, with the only stumbling in Orissa, with Airtel set to breach a cap of spectrum held in the region post acquisition.
The company has reportedly been asked to surrender 1.2MHz of spectrum in the region, before it can proceed.
The deal struck with Aircel gives the market leader access to the 4G spectrum until 2030, and a pan India footprint that matches Reliance Jio Infocomm, according to Economic Times.
Reliance Jio Infocomm, which has seen its launch delayed numerous times, is expected to enter the market later this year.
Aircel, 74 per cent owned by Maxis, is currently going through the motions of a proposed merger with Reliance Communications, and will use the deal to reduce its debt.
The merger is apparently expected to close this month.