ibnlive » Business

Feb 15, 2007 at 02:51pm IST

We want Ruia's support: Arun Sarin

New Delhi: After winning the Hutch Essar Limited for $19 billion, UK telecom giant Vodaphone’s CEO Arun Sarin seems confident he will be able to win Ruias—the 33 per cent stake holders of Essar who went sour after the deal got struck.

Sarin is likely to meet the Essar Group top brass when he visits Mumbai on Thursday. While the main agenda is to visit the corporate headquarters of Hutch-Essar, Sarin is perhaps keen on sorting out the legal tiff initiated by the Essar as Ruias threatened to put spokes in the UK company's $18.8 billion deal with HTIL.

Sarin hoped Ruias will choose to stay invested in the Hutch-Essar mobile telecom venture and said he will make all the efforts to placate them.

CNN-IBN's Shereen Bhan had a chance to speak to him exclusively, on his plans for India.

Arun Sarin: I have met the Ruia family several times and there is a lot of respect between the two organisations. From an advantage point, Essar’s Ruias own 33 per cent stake in the company, which is a very significant stake.

I would love them to continue on as our partners. India is 13 per cent penetrated, it will be 30-50 per cent penetrated in the years to come. There is a lot of work to be done to build this company. I need their help. And I would love them to stay as our partners.

Shereen Bhan: Have you made a call to the Ruias allying the concerns that they have regarding the deal or the MoU that you have struck with Bharti?

Arun Sarin: The MoU that we have struck with Bharti has to be put in context. An MoU is an intent. All that it says is that we would like to bring our towers together so we can build our rural India faster.

Shereen Bhan: They say that why didn’t you consult with them first. At least that’s what the report suggests. As a 33 per cent partner, may be you should have consulted them considering that the company is not yours at this point of time.

Arun Sarin: That’s correct. The company is not ours at this stage. And it wont be our for the next six-seven weeks, and that’s fine. You have to remember that we are coming out of a period where we were competing for this asset. All the things that we were doing to make sure that this company would be a success, we could not have possibly shared with the Ruias.

The announcements were made that we have won the auction, and that was the time when we brought this MoU out. An MoU is simply an intent and we will convert this into an agreement in the coming months and the Ruias who I very much hope will be our partners will have the full chance to vet this agreement.