Vodafone scouting for partners to offload stake in Indian ops

Vodafone is conducting talks with potential buyers for some of its Indian mobile operations, according to reports. Foreign firms are only allowed to own 74% of Indian telcos; Vodafone’s stake now exceeds this amount after it bought out its former joint venture partner Essar for US5.46 billion earlier this month.

Although the addition of Essar’s 33% stake took Vodafone’s holding only just over the restriction, the UK-based firm is now obliged to sell at least 1% of its stake to a local business.

Vodafone have not made any official statement, but observers have speculated that the issue may be resolved by increasing the stakes of existing Indian shareholders Ashim Ghosh, Analjit Singh and IDFC.

The UK firm first broke into India in 2007 by purchasing a 67% stake of what was at the time known as Hutchison Essar. Vodafone now has roughly 140 million subscribers in India.

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