Dec 22, 2006

Hutchison Whampoa not happy with bids

Hutchison Whampoa is believed to have said that bids received till now did not reflect the true value of HEL. This could be another reason prompting RCL to raise the bid, said sources.
Essar Group vice-chairman Ravi Ruia is currently in London and is believed to be in talks with Vodafone. Speculation is also rife that RCL may approach Malaysia’s Maxis for a combined bid to take on Vodafone if the UK giant offers a very high price for HEL. When contacted, the Reliance spokesperson refused to comment on all the above. Riding on reports that RCL has put in a $16-17 billion bid for HEL, its stock price moved up 3.16% to close at Rs 461.70.

RCL had earlier tied up with Blackstone, KKR, Texas Pacific and UBS, but industry sources see the move to rope in four more banks as an indicator of the company going all out to secure HEL.

This is because, buying out HEL in addition to increasing the company’s subscriber base by 78%, will also enable the company to overtake Bharti Airtel, which is currently the largest cellular operator in India. Additionally , Anil Ambani has been looking at aggressive expansion in GSM, the technology used by 70% of India’s mobile population.

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