The imminent merger between Vodafone India and Idea Cellular could result in as many as 5,000 staff – nearly a quarter of the operators’ combined workers – being made redundant.
The Economic Times reported that the layoffs were likely as the companies are looking to reduce costs and increase efficiency, with one source quoted as saying: “The retrenchment has to happen swiftly because in times of margin pressures in a debt-heavy industry, both companies do not want to start new operations burdened with excess manpower.”
Idea currently has around 11,000 employees, while Vodafone India has around 10,000. Another source noted that there is a significant amount of overlap between the companies’ workforces, meaning that potential layoffs could exceed 5,000.
However, a Vodafone India representative shot down the report, stating: “This is pure speculation and totally untrue. No decisions have been taken about the workforce of the merged entity.”
In March, Department of Telecoms secretary Aruna Sundararajan confirmed that the approvals process for the merger had been accelerated, with clearance required only from the foreign investment and licence departments.
Vodafone Group and Idea’s parent Aditya Birla Group have stated their goal of completing the deal – which will create a new market leader in India – within the first half of the year.