Vodafone has also emerged as an interested party, along with the Ambanis, the Mittals of Bharti Airtel, the Ruias, and Maxis for the acquisition of Hutchison's 67-per cent stake reports CNBC-TV18. Sources indicate that Vodafone wants a larger play in India.
However, it hasn't found it easy to increase its stake in Bharti and therefore, Vodafone may turn to Hutch. At present, Vodafone holds 10-per cent stake in Bharti.
It is also believed that Essar cannot have the first right of refusal when it comes to a foreign entity hence Vodafone may not have to go through the rigour of getting Essar's apporoval. However, if indeed Vodafone goes in for Hutch, then it will have to exit its stake in Bharti, since it cannot hold competing stakes according to regulatory norms.
But Sunil Mittal of Bharti Airtel clarified that Vodafone has not approached them in terms of exiting their stake in the company.
Sources also say that Vodafone was earlier keen on acquiring and merging Hutch Essar with Bharti. But the deal did not favour Bharti. He rubbishes these rumours and says, "Ruias, Vodafone, Singtel, Hutch - none of them have approached us."