UK-headquartered Vodafone is eyeing potential acquisition opportunities in India in the wake of its $130 billion sale of a major stake in US operator Verizon Wireless, reports the Financial Times.
Speaking with the UK newspaper, Martin Pieters, the head of Vodafone India (Mumbai, India), said the only thing now preventing the operator from pursuing takeover opportunities was the attitude of Indian regulators.
Authorities in the country are expected to provide further clarification on rules about mergers and acquisitions later this year, including guidance on the transfer of spectrum between companies involved in a deal, which could free the operator to begin exploring acquisition options.
Besides signaling his interest in consolidation, Pieters said Vodafone India would continue to pursue plans for an initial public offering, even though recently introduced rules would allow Vodafone (Newbury, UK) to buy out minority Indian partners and increase its stake in Vodafone India from 74% to 100%.
However, Vodafone chief executive Vittorio Colao has appeared keen to bring an end to the operator’s long-running tax dispute with Indian authorities before considering a public offering.
Analysts cited by the Financial Times are expecting Vodafone to increase capital expenditure in India following its Verizon Wireless (New York City, NY, USA) divestment.
Nevertheless, investment activities have been held up by the spectrum dispute, with India’s government demanding that Vodafone rebid for licenses it already holds in large cities, including Delhi and Mumbai, during auctions scheduled for next year.
Vodafone believes it should be allowed to pay for an extension to the licenses, which are due to expire in November 2014, instead of bidding for them in an open auction that could prove costly.