“Vodafone Group PLC and Idea Cellular today announced that they have reached an agreement to combine their operations in India,” the companies said in a statement.

“The combined company would become the leading communications provider in India with almost 400 million customers, 35 per cent customer market share and 41 per cent revenue market share,” it added.

Vodafone will own 45.1 per cent of the combined entity, after it transfers 4.9 per cent to the Aditya Birla Group, Idea’s parent company, for 579 million dollars.7

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The Aditya Birla group, will hold 26 per cent, while the balance will be held by the public, it said in a statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange.

The merger of Vodafone India and Idea, India’s second and third largest telecoms networks respectively, will push the country’s telecoms leader, Bharti Airtel, to the second spot.

The move comes after weeks of speculation that the firms were in talks to strike a deal to take on a new operator, Reliance Jio, which has disrupted India’s telecoms market and sparked a price war.