NEW DELHI Feb 18 Bharti Airtel Ltd,
India's top telecommunications carrier, said on Tuesday it had
agreed to acquire smaller rival Loop Mobile - the first merger
in the country's crowded telecoms market in nearly six years.
Bharti did not say how much it was paying for the assets of
Loop Mobile, which operates only in the financial capital
Mumbai. Sources said on Monday that Bharti would pay 3 billion
rupees and take on 4 billion rupees of debt held by Loop.
The deal would take Bharti's total customers in Mumbai to
more than 7 million, helping it surpass Vodafone by
customer numbers in the city, though its market share by revenue
for Mumbai would still lag Vodafone.
Bharti said in a statement the companies were yet to sign a
definitive agreement and that the deal was subject to regulatory
($1 = 61.9350 Indian rupees)
(Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)