IndiaƆs largest telecoms merger misses deadline

The merger that should have created the largest cellular company in India remains mired in controversy and uncertainty.

It was the merger that would have created the largest cellular company in India. When cellular giants Birla-ATT-Tata Batata and BPL Communications signed an agreement in June 2001 to form a joint venture, industry participants were agog with enthusiasm about the prospects for the telecoms industry in India. Everyone assumed it was a done deal and the merger would have accounted for 24% of cellular subscribers covering 44% of the population and 51% of all fixed line telephone users.

A year later, the joint venture is still grounded and is mired in controversy and uncertainty. The merger deal, worth $2.1 billion, would have seen BPL holding a 49.32% take in the new venture with...

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