January 30, 2017 / 9:05 AM / in 10 months

BUZZ-Vodafone top of the FTSE on deal talks, Idea poised for best day on record

(Adds Bharti Airtel stock price)

** Mobile operator Vodafone’s shares up more than 3 pct in early trades after saying it was in talks to merge its Indian operations with rival Idea Cellular in an all-share deal

** British co says any merger would involve Idea issuing new shares to Vodafone and would result in taking its India business off its books

** Last November, Vodafone took a $5 bln charge on the value of its India business after the domestic telecoms market was thrown into turmoil by the arrival Reliance Jio Infocomm

** Jio’s entry into the market sparked speculation that the already competitive market would see a round of merger activity as companies look to maintain market share and profitability

** Idea shares soared more than 27 pct in India on heavy volumes and were poised for their best day on record

** Reliance Industries shares up 1.6 pct. Top rival Bharti Airtel up more than 7 pct with the move adding more than $1 bln to its market value (RM: rahul.b.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)

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