London: The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has approved the merger of Idea Cellular and the Indian unit of Vodafone Group, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The new merged entity will overtake Bharti Airtel as India’s largest mobile phone operator. The Vodafone-Idea merger, announced in March 2017, will topple Bharti Airtel and create a behemoth with 438.8 million subscribers.

Idea, a part of the Aditya Birla conglomerate, and Vodafone signed a merger agreement last year, which could create the country’s biggest telecom operator. Approval from the Tribunal was the only outstanding regulatory requirement.

Both companies declined to comment.

The Department of Telecommunications recently gave its approval to the merger.

Vodafone India and Idea had in March outlined the key leadership team to head the merged entity. Aditya Birla Group’s chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla was named non-executive chairman of Vodafone Idea Ltd while Balesh Sharma, currently the chief operating officer of Vodafone India, was named chief executive officer.

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