Vodafone buys10% stake in Bharti for $1.5 B

By agencies   |   Friday, 28 October 2005, 07:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: Vodafone Group Plc, the world's biggest mobile-phone company, agreed to buy 10 percent of Bharti Tele-Ventures Ltd., India's largest and fastest-growing wireless operator, for about $1.5 billion in cash.

Vodafone will buy a 5.6 percent stake from Warburg Pincus LLC and gain another 4.4 percent by buying shares in Bharti Enterprises Ltd., Bharti said in a statement in New Delhi today. Arun Sarin, the India-born chief executive of Newbury, England- based Vodafone, said he plans to increase the stake ``over time.''

The number of Indian mobile-phone users may jump almost five times to 300 million in 2009, researcher Gartner Inc. predicts. Only 6 percent of the 1.1 billion-strong population, the world's second-largest after China, owns a handset. The deal comes after India allowed greater foreign ownership of its wireless companies.
Commenting on the development, Bharti Televenture’s Chairman and Group Managing Director Sunil Mittal said, “We are delighted that Vodafone has made a call on the Indian telecom sector and has chosen BTVL to be the vehicle to develop its continuing interest in the Asian region.”

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