Vodafone has beaten rival suitors to buy Indian mobile firm Hutchison Essar. The British phone giant bid 8.4 billion euros for a controlling 67% stake.
Some analysts expressed concerns that Vodafone is repeating the mistakes of the past and overpaying for an acquisition. But Chief Executive Arun Sarin said it was a very reasonable price and he was upbeat about the returns for shareholders.
India is the world’s fastest-growing mobile phone market and Hutchison Essar is the fourth largest operator there, with 16.4% of the market and 23.3 million customers.With Europe virtually 100% saturated with mobiles, Vodafone believes India can be a key area for potential growth. The country’s mobile phone market is expected to grow from the current 150 million to 500 million users by 2010, adding five million to six million users each month.