Carlos Slim Helu, world’s second richest man, is said to be eyeing a stake in Venugopal Dhoots’ Datacom, which has an all-India mobile licence. The Times of India reports that a group company of Carlos Slim, America Movil, has expressed an interest to pick up a stake. Slim’s telecommunications empire is spread over Mexico and much of Latin America as well. He controls Telmex, Telcel and América Móvil companies. While Venugopal Dhoot holds a 64% stake in Datacom, Mahendra Nahata of HFCL holds the rest 34% stake. Others like Etisalat, AT&T, DoCoMo are also said to be interested in picking up the stake.
Datacom had received pan-India mobile licence a few months ago when the shareholding was divided between Nahata and some other investors. Videocon later came in as a 64 per cent partner. Since then Dhoot has offered to pick up Nahata’s stake, which were rejected by the latter. It has been reported that Dhoot offered to buy Nahata’s shares on the basis of a $900 million valuation for Datacom, but Nahata wanted a valuation of $1.4 billion. Nahata has also said that he can take legal recourse as the JV was being run as a proprietorial firm by Dhoot.
Because of this corporate battle, a foreign player may be interested in buying the complete 100% stake in Datacom and bring in its own Indian partner to comply with FDI norms. But Dhoot has been preparing his entry into the mobile business in a big way and plans to capture 10% share in the market in first five years. He is also said to be in talks to acquire Motorola’s handset business that will have synergies with its his telecom venture.
Dhoot is also planning to launch DTH services across the country by the end of the year. He had recently picked up a 14% stake in Mumbai-based broadband company IOL Netcom, which offers Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) services in Mumbai.