Vodafone seeks investigation of Essar’s reverse listing

19 Jan 2011

UK-based mobile giant Vodafone Group has said that it objects to plans by the Essar Group to value a stake in Indian mobile network operator Vodafone Essar, Bloomberg reports. Vodafone Group is understood to object to such a move while Essar, which has a 33% stake in Vodafone Essar, still has the option of selling its holding in the cellco for as much as USD5 billion. Essar has sought legal approval from the Madras high court to merge unlisted Essar Telecommunications Holdings Pvt. Ltd, which owns an 11% stake in Vodafone Essar, with listed India Securities Ltd; Essar’s remaining 22% is held through Essar Telecom Ltd, another unlisted firm. Such a move, the UK company argues, ‘could be misinterpreted’ to indicate ‘fair market value of Vodafone Essar’, with Vodafone Group noting that it ‘does not wish a company in which it holds a majority interest to become the subject of a false market.’ The Essar Group has an option to sell its entire stake to Vodafone for USD5 billion, although it can instead sell a smaller stake at an independently appraised fair market trading value; the window to sell the stake expires in May 2011. Vodafone has said that it has asked for Essar’s proposed reverse listing to be investigated by the Bombay Stock Exchange and the Securities and Exchange Board of India.

India, Vodafone Group, Vodafone India