A proposed merger of Indus Towers with Bharti Infratel ran into a major obstacle as shareholders squabbled over the pricing structure of the deal, which was due to close today (24 October), The Economic Times (ET) reported.

Bharti Infratel said earlier in the week the merger couldn’t be completed by the deadline because it was awaiting final regulatory approval. The company was reluctant to alter the pricing mechanism, the newspaper wrote. Meanwhile, Indus shareholder Vodafone Group was said to be unwilling to extend the deadline unless pricing terms were amended.

Since Bharti Airtel agreed to combine its tower business with Indus Towers in April 2018, the price of Bharti Infratel shares fell 21 per cent, reducing the payout to shareholders exiting the merged company.

Airtel and Vodafone Group each holds a 42 per cent stake in Indus Tower, while Vodafone Idea holds an 11 per cent interest. A merger would see Vodafone Group maintain a reduced stake in the new company and Vodafone Idea would sell its interest.

At the current share price, Vodafone Idea would receive about INR45 billion ($634 million), compared with the INR65 billion it would have netted when the deal was agreed, ET said.

In May, India’s National Company Law Tribunal approved the proposed merger, which will create one of the largest tower companies outside of China, but it needs Department of Telecommunications clearance.

The new company, which will operate under the Indus Tower name, will have 163,000 towers across India and an estimated value of $12 billion to $13 billion. It will continue to be listed on the Indian stock exchanges.