Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio Infocomm launched separate bids to raise a total of INR365 billion ($5.6 billion) through bond sales – moves vaunted as preparing for the final blows in the country’s fierce price war, Bloomberg reported.
Filings with the Indian authorities reveal Bharti Airtel aimed to raise up to INR165 billion, while Reliance Jio’s parent announced it would sell bonds worth up to INR200 billion.
The two are currently engaged in a fierce battle – alongside the merging Vodafone and Idea Cellular – for control of the Indian mobile market, as smaller players continue to fall by the wayside.
Since the launch of Reliance Jio in 2016 and its free and discount 4G deals: Telenor struck a deal to sell its operation in the country to Bharti Airtel; Vodafone and Idea Cellular announced their intention to join forces; Aircel filed for bankruptcy; and Reliance Communications is fighting off creditor litigation while attempting to sell assets.
As a result, investment company Jay Capital told Bloomberg the battle was “down to the big boys” and both Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel were preparing a warchest for the “last stretch”.