SingTel is keen for Indian operator group Bharti Airtel to lead industry consolidation in its home market, according to the company’s chairman, Simon Israel.

Speaking to the Economic Times, Israel said SingTel, which holds a 32 per cent stake in Bharti, will support any moves the Indian group makes to consolidate its position the market.

He added that SingTel would sit with Bharti shareholders and “play our role” if the question of the Singaporean group providing financial support for any mergers or acquisitions arose.

India currently has 10 operators, including a number of smaller players alongside bigger state-owned and private companies. “India desperately needs consolidation. Globally, the mobile industry is a scale game,” Israel noted.

The SingTel chief’s comments come after Vodafone India CEO, Martin Pieters, said that he sees his company has a “natural consolidator” in the Indian market.

The Indian government is due to announce revised M&A rules which are likely to prompt a shakeout of the fragmented Indian telecoms market.

Nordic operator group Telenor has said it will wait until the Indian government has clarified its rules regarding the telecoms sector before considering any M&A activity in the country.

SingTel’s Israel also welcomed the Indian government’s decision to allow full foreign ownership of its telecoms companies as it looks to boost the economy through increased foreign investment.

He said the move will not only provide funds needed for consolidation but also provide Indian companies with greater access to foreign capital that can be used to invest in networks.