Reliance Communication board clears Hutch bid as Vodafone woos Essar

RComm cleared Anil Ambani''s proposal even as UK''s Vodafone as well as Essar stepped up the pace in pursuit of Hutch-Essar. The RComm board also authorised Ambani to take all necessary steps for a possible acquisition of the telecom operator and raise long-term resources in the form of external commercial borrowings.

The board has also approved the issue of foreign currency convertible bonds in overseas markets worth up to $1 billion. Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin, meanwhile, met the finance, commerce, and communication ministers and briefed them about the company''s future plans in India''s fast-growing telecom sector.

Essar group chairman Shashi Ruia who said his bankers have started confirmatory diligence for a deal, also called on finance minister P Chidambaram but did not elaborate on what transpired.

Separately, Sunil Mittal of Bharti Airtel, in which Vodafone holds 9.9-per cent stake, called on Maran here.

While Vodafone is keeping options to partner Essar in the joint venture open, Sarin said after meeting Chidambaram that India was a growing market and fits well in Vodafone''s plans.

"Absolutely," was Sarin''s reply when asked whether Vodafone would join hands with Ruias-promoted Essar, who he termed as a good partner.