Vodafone seeks to buy out minority shareholders in India unit for $1.7B

Vodafone Group Plc has sought approval from the authorities to raise its stake in the India unit for 101.41 billion rupees it said on Tuesday, after India allowed foreign companies to take full ownership of local carriers.

Vodafone, which entered India in 2007 by buying Hutchison Whampoa's local cellular assets in an $11 billion deal, directly and indirectly owns a combined 84.5 per cent of Vodafone India, the country's No.2 telecoms company by users.

Vodafone directly owns 64.38 per cent of the India unit.

In August, India relaxed rules on foreign holdings in the sector to allow companies such as Vodafone to own 100 per cent of their Indian businesses.

Before the rule change, foreign companies were limited to direct stakes of no more than 74 per cent in Indian carriers.

Piramal Enterprises owns about 11 per cent of Vodafone India. The remainder is owned by investors including businessman Analjit Singh, Vodafone India's non-executive chairman.

Vodafone said on Tuesday after increasing its stake to 100 per cent in the India unit, the British telecoms operator would consider providing additional capital by subscribing to shares of the subsidiary.

Vodafone has told the government it plans to invest more than $2 billion in the country, Telecommunications Minister Kapil Sibal told Reuters this month.

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