Vodafone agrees to buy Hutch controlling stake

(Associated Press via NewsEdge) Britain's Vodafone Group has agreed to buy a 67% controlling interest in Hutchison Essar, one of India's leading cell phone companies, for $11.1 billion, Vodafone said in a statement.

Hutchison Telecommunications International, a holding company of Hong Kong based Hutchison Whampoa, agreed to sell its stake following a meeting to assess competing bids.

'Vodafone announces today that it has agreed to acquire a controlling interest in Hutchison Essar Limited, a leading operator in the fast growing Indian mobile market, via its subsidiary Vodafone International,' the firm said in a statement.

Essar Group, an Indian company with businesses ranging from shipping to energy, controls the remaining 33% stake in Hutchison Essar.

The deal will offer the British carrier a presence in one of the world's fastest growing markets: India is now adding 5 million new mobile phone connections every month, more than China.

© 2007 The Associated Press

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