New Delhi: The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has given its approval to the proposed merger of Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers, the tower arm of Bharti Airtel said in a statement on Monday.

The nod from the competition watchdog is the first in several required for the merger.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) and Department of Telecommunications also need to give the green signal for the merger.

Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers in April announced a merger which would create the world’s largest tower company outside China. The merger will help Bharti Airtel Ltd, Vodafone India Ltd and Idea Cellular Ltd, which came together in 2007 to form Indus Towers, easily pare their stakes in the combined entity to raise funds to invest in their struggling telecom operations and cut debt.

The merger is expected to close by 31 March 2019.