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India's Essar Offers Deal on Hutch to Vodafone: Paper

Reuters
Thursday, 28 Dec 2006 | 2:18 AM ET

India's Essar group has met with Vodafone Group and offered a deal on the British firm's planned takeover of mobile phone operator Hutchison Essar, the Times of India reported on Thursday.

The Ruia family-controlled Essar group holds 33 percent in the joint venture, and is reported to be interested in taking full control itself.

According to the newspaper, Essar has proposed that Vodafone buy only the 55% stake in Hutchison Essar that is directly held by Hutchison Telecommunications International to "reduce (the) financial burden" of an outright purchase.

Citing a source familiar with the Ruias' plan, the newspaper said Hutchison Telecommunications and the Ruias are working on a deal to sort out what would happen to a remaining 12% stake controlled by Hutchison.

The Ruias would, after a year, then encash their investment through an initial public offering, the paper said.

Essar group Vice Chairman Ravi Ruia and Vodafone Chief Executive Arun Sarin held a "courtesy meeting" in London last week, a senior Essar group official told the paper.

An Essar spokesman declined comment.

The Financial Times earlier said Vodafone had submitted a bid, valuing Hutchison Essar at between $17 billion and $18 billion, the same price as a reported proposal from Essar group.

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