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Friday, Sep 17, 2004

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Industry & Economy - Foreign Direct Investment

FDI hike is no issue; we have enough funds: Mittal
Bharti not to shed stake in telecom co

Our Bureau

`We have FDI in Bharti, but we function as an Indian company. We would like to access capital from abroad in future'.

Mr Sunil Mittal

New Delhi , Sept. 16

EVEN as the Government grapples with the issue of raising the foreign direct investment cap in telecom, the Bharti Group today said it would not immediately dilute its stake in Bharti Tele-Ventures even if the Government increases the cap from 49 per cent to 74 per cent.

The statement assumes significance because it was widely believed that Bharti was one of the companies pushing for an increase in the FDI cap to allow its foreign partner, Singapore Telecom, to increase its holding in the telecom company.

"The company will not rush to raise funds even if the FDI limit goes up as we have enough cash for expansion in the near future. If the question is whether we will reduce our stake in Bharti Tele after the FDI limit goes up, the answer is no," the Bharti Tele-Ventures Chairman and Managing Director, Mr Sunil Bharti Mittal, said at the sidelines of a press conference.

``We have FDI in Bharti, but we function as an Indian company. We would like to access capital from abroad in future, but will keep running as an Indian company," Mr Mittal said. The company is in the process of issuing a sponsored American Depository Receipt issue of 20 crore shares.

Meanwhile, hectic political parleying is going on between the Left parties and the Government to resolve the stalemate on the issue. The Communication and IT Minister, Mr Dayanidhi Maran, last evening met the Prime Minister, Dr Manomhan Singh, the Finance Minister Mr P. Chidambaram and the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman, Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, to discuss the issue.

The Ministry of Communication is in favour raising the FDI in telecom to 74 per cent while retaining management control in Indian hands.

The Left parties have cited security concerns as the primary reason for their opposition. The CPI (M) today said the issue would be taken up during the meeting of the UPA-Left parties coordination committee after the Prime Minister returned from his US visit.

"We will meet Dr Manmohan Singh, and Ms Sonia Gandhi, on September 18, a day after our polit bureau meeting," Mr Sitaram Yechuri told presspersons after meeting Mr Ahluwalia over lunch.

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