'No intention to acquire private partners' stake'
New Delhi, Mar 15: British telecom giant Vodafone today categorically stated that it would not acquire the 15 per cent stake held by private partners like Hutch CEO Asim Ghosh, Analjit Singh of Max and other minor stakeholders.
Vodafone Chief Arun Sarin also said the company has no intention to issue Initial Public Offering (IPO) in the next two to three years.
''We are not going to buy the minor stakes from private partners.
It is up to them. If they agree to sell it out, we have the first right to buy it,'' Mr Sarin said here.
Presently, Vodafone holds 52 per cent share, while Essar 33 per cent. The remaining 15 per cent are held by private partners.
Mr Sarin reiterated that if his company refused to buy it first, then Essar would have the rights to acquire it.
On offering the chairmanship of the new entity to its local partner Essar Chief Ravi Ruia, he said, ''whenever we enter into any market, we offer the top managerial post to our local partners to fully exploit the potential of the emerging markets''.
Committing a long-term partnership with its local Indian partners, Mr Sarin said the company would pump in several billion dollars into the emerging Indian telecom market, especially in the vast rural areas.
By the end of this year, Vodafone will introduce its low-cost handsets into the country.
The new entity renamed as Vodafone-Essar will provide the same services to its Indian clients just like their global customers, Mr Sarin said.
On the pricing strategy, he stated the company would be very competitive saying that ''whatever it takes, we will do that''.
Vodafone Group Plc will take operational control in its joint venture with the Essar Group, which owns 33 per cent in India's fourth largest telecom company Hutchison Essar.
''Ravi Ruia will be named as the Chairman of Vodafone-Essar and the Essar Group will continue to be a 33 per cent shareholder in the new entity,'' Mr Sarin said.
The telecom giant said Essar would have an option to sell its 33 per cent shareholding in Vodafone-Essar to Vodafone for five billion dollars.
Mr Sarin and Essar Group Vice Chairman Ravi Ruia today met the IT and Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran and briefed him about future plans of their JV.
The two also met the Union Minister for Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath here.
Last month, the UK giant had clinched a deal to acquire 67 per cent controlling stake in Hutch-Essar from Hong Kong based Hutchison Telecom International for 1.1 billion dollars.