Vodafone chief meets PM

New Delhi: Arun Sarin, CEO, Vodafone, today paid a courtesy call on prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh to apprise him of the UK telecom major's plans for expanding Hutch-Essar's rural penetration in to rural areas.

Last weekend, Vodafone emerged as the successful acquirer of Hutchison Whampoa's 52-per cent stake of the 67-per cent that Hong Kong-based firm owns in Hutch-Essar. Hutch-Essar CEO Asim Ghosh and Analjit Singh own the remaining 15 per cent.

Sarin called on Singh this morning before flying back to London in his own jet to round off his three-day visit to India, within a week of clinching the deal for a controlling stake in Hutch-Essar.

Emerging from the Prime Minister's residence, Sarin told reporters he was convinced that Essar would remain a partner in the mobile venture.

Sarin also said Vodafone would discuss its investment plans with Essar while adding that "shareholders agreement with Essar will be hopefully signed soon".

Vodafone has already committed to invest $2 billion in a "couple of years" for expanding Hutch-Essar in India as part of efforts to become the country`s largest mobile operator with a target of 100 million subscribers.