Vodafone eyes Bangladesh investment

Having acquired a 52 per cent stake in the Indian mobile operator Hutchison Essar last year, Vodafone has moved on to look for new pastures and has opened discussions with the neighbouring Bangladeshi government.

Vodafone's CEO of Asia, Africa and China, Gavin Darby, said that the company was interested in investing in Bangladesh, claiming to be excited by the growth possibilities in the country. According to data from Mobile World, there are six existing operators in Bangladesh with just under 34.4 million mobile subscribers-- which is a population penetration level of just 22.6 per cent.

The local Ministry of Telecommunications has made no comment on the likelihood of issuing a new licence to Vodafone, although most speculation centres on the company acquiring one of the smaller players and then heavily investing to gain market share.

Separately, Vodafone has won the right to challenge a tax claim by the Indian government over its US$7B purchase of a stake in Hutchison Essar. The company has maintained that the case should be heard by the Indian High Court, arguing that any tax liability lies with the Hong Kong group as the seller, not with Vodafone as the buyer.

For more on this story:
- read Cellular News and Financial Times