Vodafone has offered to sell its 5.6 per cent direct stake in Bharti Airtel to a company of the Bharti Group, subject to the completion of the acquisition of Hutch Essar by Vodafone. "If the option is not exercised, Vodafone would be able to sell this 5.6% interest,” a Vodafone statement said.
Vodafone, however, would retain the 4.4 per cent indirect stake it holds in Bharti Airtel through a 26 per cent stake in Bharti Infotel Pvt Ltd. This will reinforce its ongoing relationship with the Indian telecom major. Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman of the Bharti Airtel Ltd., told Hindustan Times in Barcelona that the Singtel has shown interest in picking up additional 5.6 per cent stake which Vodafone is expected to divest. “Singtel has also shown interest to pick up 5.6 per cent stake which Vodafone has offered to sell”, said Mittal.
As per the telecom norms, an operator cannot hold more than 10 per cent stake in two service providers. This is why Vodafone is shedding its stake in Bharti. Vodafone has two members on the Bharti board.