Essar wants to be equal partner with Vodafone in HEL

Mumbai: Essar, the Indian partner of Vodafone in its new acquisition, Hutchison Essar Ltd (HEL), is looking for parity in partnership ahead of discussions with the UK giant, which is taking a majority 67 per cent stake in the company.

Reports quoting Essar sources said it wanted 'partnership of equals' and 'joint management' in the country's fourth largest mobile venture, HEL. Essar Teleholdings CEO Vikash Saraf also refuted reports that Essar could exit the business, provided Vodafone paid a premium for its 33 per cent stake in HEL.

"We are the founder partner and shareholder. We will continue as a strategic partner in HEL and not as an investment partner," the report quoted him as saying.

"So, where is the question of seeking a premium?" he asked adding, "The fundamental tenet of the partnership with Vodafone will be a partnership of equals where both sides have a meaningful role. This will be the basis for any agreement with Vodafone."

Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin, who was in India last week after clinching the $11.1 billion deal to acquire 67 per cent stake in HEL, had held discussions with the Essar promoters, the Ruias. Further discussions between Ruias and Vodafone are expected to start later this week for which group vice chairman Ravi Ruia is slated to fly to London.