India's Reliance denies report of bid for UK telco BT Group

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FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a Reliance Industries Limited sign board installed on a road divider in Gandhinagar
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(Reuters) - Reliance Industries Ltd said on Monday it does not intend to bid for British telecom company BT Group Plc after a media report that the Indian oil-to-telecoms conglomerate was considering an offer.

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance might make an unsolicited offer to buy into BT Group or try to get a controlling share in it, the Economic Times reported https://bit.ly/3xFpsAj on Monday, adding that the firm may also propose to partner with BT's fibre optic arm, Openreach, and fund its expansion plans.

"We categorically deny any intent to bid for the UK telecoms group BT. The article is completely speculative and baseless," Reliance said https://bit.ly/3EaFiFK in a stock exchange filing.

Reliance's shares, which rose as much as 3.6% earlier in the day, closed 1.2% higher at 2,441.50 rupees.

BT declined to comment on the media report.

India's telecoms market, one of the world's biggest, has been upended by Ambani-controlled Jio Infocomm, which launched with free voice and cut-price data in late 2016.

Ambani has forced several rivals out of the market while others such as the local unit of Britain's Vodafone and India's Idea merged to withstand Jio's onslaught.

In September, Reliance was outbid by a consortium of Apax and Warburg Pincus for control over a Dutch unit of T-Mobile.

Reuters reported last week that Reliance and Saudi Aramco have called off a deal for the state oil giant to buy a stake in the oil-to-chemicals business of Reliance due to valuation concerns.

(Reporting by Rama Venkat and Nishit Jogi in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Maju Samuel)

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