Bharti Airtel is close to finalising an INR7 billion (USD113.41 million) deal to acquire rival cellco Loop Mobile, which offers services exclusively in the Mumbai area, the Economic Times writes, citing three people involved in the deal. The takeover would represent the first consolidation action since the flawed 2008 spectrum sale flooded the market with new operators. Bharti is expected to gain Loop’s roughly three million subscribers, as well as the telco’s 400 towers and their fibre-optic backhaul links. The deal would allow Loop’s subscribers to continue to receive services uninterrupted when the cellco’s licence expires later this year. Loop’s customer base in Mumbai is thought to be particularly attractive to Bharti Airtel as the operating circle, along with Delhi, is the most lucrative for data services and users there tend to generate higher ARPU than elsewhere. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Loop’s sister company Loop Telecom acquired licences for the nation’s other operating areas in 2008, but had the concessions revoked by the Supreme Court in 2012.
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