Plans to invest Rs 10,141 crore for remaining stake

British telecom major Vodafone Plc has sought the Foreign Investment Promotion Board’s approval to increase its holding in Vodafone India to 100 per cent. The company will invest Rs 10,141 crore to purchase the stake it does not currently own.

At present, the British telecom company holds 64.38 per cent in Vodafone India Ltd, which provides GSM services.

“We have always said we would like to increase our holding in the business and this further demonstrates Vodafone’s long-term commitment to India,” the company said in a statement.

Vodafone intends to buy the 11 per cent held by industrialist Ajay Piramal, who had acquired it in two tranches, in August 2011 and February 2012. The remaining 24 per cent or so is held by other minority shareholders, including Vodafone India Chairman Analjit Singh.

The other operators with foreign telecom firms owning a majority stake are Sistema Shyam Teleservices (MTS brand), Uninor and Aircel.

With 155.54 million users as of September-end, Vodafone India ranks second among operators by the number of subscribers, according to data released by GSM operators’ lobby Cellular Operators’ Association of India. The company is also ranked No. 2 in market share with 23 per cent.

The British telecom giant had entered India in 2007 by buying Hutchison Whampoa’s stake in joint venture company Vodafone Essar in an $11.5-billion deal. Essar Group was Hutchison Whampoa’s joint venture partner.

In July, the Government approved 100 per cent foreign direct investment in telecom — 49 per cent under the automatic route and the rest through FIPB approval.

rajesh.kurup@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on October 29, 2013)
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