India Inc is ready to stand up and slug it out. Even with a competitor who is prepared to ante up a staggering $17 billion (Rs 75,000 crore).
Anil Ambani talked tough on Thursday, while unveiling his ambitious plan to do battle with global telecom giant Vodafone. “The game is just beginning,” he said.
Ambani’s Reliance Communications and Vodafone are among the four combatants in the fray to buy out Hutchison from its telecom joint venture Hutchison-Essar. The others are Hutchison’s partner Essar itself, and the Malaysian telecom company Maxis.
Speaking on the occasion of the 75th birth anniversary of the late Dhirubhai Ambani, Reliance’s founder, Ambani claimed private-equity firms and banks had committed “more money” to support the Reliance Communications bid than it “will ever need”.
Ambani was confident he would be able to raise a sum which was a multiple of his entire group’s market value, leave alone Reliance Communications. “If you look at the top 10 private-equity players today, I have to look hard to find which one has not lined up to partner us in the bid,” he said. “It is a myth that private equity only provides funds through equity. They also provide debt through syndicated loans, and they also underwrite loans. The total funds available are well beyond our needs.”
But Vodafone is no mean opponent. It has revenues of over 29 billion pounds (Rs 253,860 crore), more than the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group’s entire market capitalisation and almost nine times its current group turnover. This year alone, Vodafone has gobbled up 11 telecom companies, for a total of $13 billion.