A merger of Idea Cellular and Vodafone, which will create a new market leader in India, is in the final stages of the approval process, the country’s telecoms secretary revealed.

In an interview with The Economic Times, Department of Telecoms secretary Aruna Sundararajan said authorities were accelerating the process and the only hurdles remaining were clearance by the foreign investment and licence departments.

Both Vodafone Group and Idea Cellular parent Aditya Birla Group slated the first half of 2018 for completion of the transaction.

The deal already received approval from a number of authorities in India, including the National Company Law Tribunal and Securities and Exchange Board of India. During the process, both companies have prepared their businesses for the merger through asset sales and, in Idea Cellular’s case, other fundraising measures.

Last week, in a joint statement, the companies revealed Vodafone India COO Balesh Sharma would be the CEO of the new business.