Slaughter and May and S&R Associates have advised UK telecom giant Vodafone on a $23 billion deal to merge its India unit with Mumbai-headquartered Idea Cellular, which was represented by AZB & Partners, Vaish Associates Advocates and Bharucha & Partners.

With nearly 400 million customers, the merged entity will reportedly be India’s biggest telecom company, surpassing market leader Bharti Airtel.

The deal, which is expected to be finalised in 2018, shows how India's mobile industry is being transformed by the launch of Reliance Jio Infocomm's 4G mobile broadband network last year, according to Reuters. 

Built at a cost of over $20 billion by Mukesh Ambani, India's richest man, Jio has offered free services for months, reported Reuters. This has forced the country's three largest operators – Bharti, Vodafone and Idea – to cut prices and accept smaller profits, and set off a wave of consolidation.

The AZB team was led by partner Nisha Kaur Uberoi while partners Rajat Sethi and Tanya Aggarwal handled the deal for S&R Associates.

Partners Alka Bharucha and Bomi Daruwala oversaw the transaction for Bharucha and Vaish, respectively.