India’s RIL weighs bid for UK’s BT Group

by Jonathan Adams

Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance might make an unsolicited offer to buy into BT Group or try to get a controlling share in it, it was reported

Indian oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) is considering an offer for British telecom company BT Group Plc, the Economic Times reported on Monday, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance might make an unsolicited offer to buy into BT Group or try to get a controlling share in it, the report said, adding that the firm may also propose to partner with BT’s fibre optic arm Openreach and fund its expansion plans.

Reliance declined to comment on the report, while BT did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

India’s telecoms market, one of the world’s biggest, has been upended by Ambani-controlled Jio Infocomm, which launched with free voice and cut-price data in late 2016.

Ambani has forced several rivals out of the market while others such as the local unit of Britain’s Vodafone and India’s Idea merged to withstand Jio’s onslaught.

In September, Reliance was outbid by a consortium of Apax and Warburg Pincus for control over a Dutch unit of T-Mobile.

The current market cap of BT Group is $20.63 billion, as on November 26. If Reliance Industries Ltd takes over BT, this will arguably be the largest outbound Merger & Acquisition (M&A) involving any Indian corporate.

BT is the UK’s incumbent operator for fixe line telecom services.

The ET report also said the deliberations were in the early stages and there might not be a transaction.

The report comes after Reuters reported last week that Reliance and Saudi Aramco have called off a deal for the state oil giant to buy a stake in the oil-to-chemicals business of Reliance due to valuation concerns.

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