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Vodafone to annonuce Essar deal Thursday

Vodafone chief executive, Arun Sarin, is expected to announce a deal Thursday that will see his firm jointly manage India’s fourth biggest mobile group, Hutchison Essar Ltd (HEL), according to reports.

The Times of India on Wednesday said the two firms have also agreed to rename HEL as Vodafone Essar. It added that the newly formed company would begin selling products and services “under the Vodafone brand in due course”.

Vodafone won its bid to buy a controlling 67 per cent stake in HEL a month ago for $11.1bn (£5.74bn). That stake includes the 52 per cent equity held by Hutchison Telecom and a combined 15 per cent stake owned by two individual Indian investors.

Essar holds the remaining 33 per cent equity in the firm and, it has said repeatedly, has no intention of selling it.

Essar Vice Chairman Ravi Ruia would become non-executive chairman, according to The Times while Sarin would become vice-chairman.

Clinching this deal has been an important win for Sarin who, towards the end of 06, faced difficult questions from shareholders on his strategy for the British operator. With a foothold in the world’s fastest growing mobile market, all eyes will be on Sarin, an Indian by birth, who called the deal “a homecoming”.

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