Essar, Vodafone believed to have submitted bids for Hutchison Essar

According to UK's Financial Times, British telecom firm Vodafone has submitted its bid for cellular services operator Hutchison Essar. The report, quoting sources said to be involved in the negotiations, says Vodafone's bid puts a value of "at least $17 billion" on Hutchison Essar.

Hutchison Whampoa had earlier said through a spokesman, that it would consider selling its 67-per cent shareholding (55 per cent of its own shareholding and the remaing held by (Analjit Singh and Asim Ghosh, Hutchison Essars CEO) in Hutchison Essar, held through its Hutchison Telecom International Ltd (HTIL), for only above $14 billion.

The spokesman was confirming comments made by Sixt reported by the Financial Times on Wednesday, which cited him as saying that the group hasn't received ''anything that would rise to the level of being an offer capable of acceptance.''

Essar's offer
Earlier some reports had said that Essar, which holds a third of Hutchison Essar, has offered to buy Hutchison's 55-per cent stake at a similar price.

Referring to a source familiar with the Ruias' plan, the newspaper said Hutchison Telecommunications and the Ruias are working on a deal to sort out what would happen to a remaining 12-per cent stake controlled by Hutchison.

According to a report in The Times of India this morning, Essar's Ravi Rui had proposed to Vodafone that the UK company buy out 55 percent in the Indian company and Essar would dilute its stake through an IPO one year later.