Vodafone to make Hutch bid: Report: The Times

British mobile giant Vodafone is likely to make a formal offer within days, a media report said here.

The Hinduja brothers, who had earlier expressed interest in buying Hong Kong-based Hutchison Telecom's stake in the Indian venture, are no longer deemed serious bidders, London-based The Times said, without quoting a source.

According to the report, Vodafone is expected to lodge a formal bid for buying Hutchison Telecom's 67 per cent stake in Hutch Essar within days.

Goldman Sachs, Hutchison Telecom's financial adviser, is seeking to cajole Vodafone into agreeing to an upfront contract for its 67-per cent stake. Completion of that process was imminent and then a formal bidding would begin, the report added.

Vodafone has evinced strong interest in the joint venture and tabled an indicative offer that values the whole business at about $16.5 billion. Some analysts say it could cost up to $20 billion, including debt.

The Times quoted Arun Sarin, chief executive, Vodafone, as having said "We will be very financially disciplined," as he sought to calm investors yesterday about the group overpaying for the deal.

Sarin had recently said at Davos that Vodafone could make a formal offer for Hutch Essar by the second week of February.