SingTel to support ‘consolidation drive’ initiated by Bharti Airtel
Bharti Airtel’s largest foreign investor with a stake of 32.34 percent, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (SingTel), has asked its Indian Associate to lead the domestic market consolidation drive assuring every possible support for such moves.
Chairman of SingTel, Simon Israel, in an exclusive interview with Economic Times on Thursday, has said that “India desperately needs consolidation. Globally, the mobile industry is a scale game” and “My observation in Asia is there are three players in every market, with the rest in the fringes. India is a bigger market, so maybe it can have 5-6 players.”
“We would like to see Bharti lead the consolidation of the market,” He added. MTLNL, BSNL, Reliance, Idea and Vodafone are among the 10 leading carriers in the country today.
In response to the question whether SingTel would be financially supporting Airtel’s consolidation move by increasing its investment, Israel answered with a positive tone and said “We would want the Bharti board to come back to us and tell us what role they would like us to do”. This statement by SingTel’s Chairman comes a few days after Martin Pieters, Vodafone India CEO, said that he looks at his company to be a ‘natural consolidator’ in the domestic market.
India’s fragmented telecom sector market will witness major reforms in October with the Indian Government announcing new merger and acquisition norms in the middle of October which is expected to support consolidation moves in the telecom market. Recently, the Indian Government took a major decision of lifting foreign investments cap, allowing 100 percent foreign investments in local telcos.