UK-based Vodafone Group will sell its 4.4 percent stake in Bharti Airtel if rules no longer permit telecom operators to keep share in competitors, a top executive of Vodafone India said. In a letter to the telecom ministry last year, Vodafone had said it holds 4.4 percent stake indirectly in Bharti.“The share is not with us, it’s with Vodafone Group so we really don’t know… I can only say if the rules don’t allow us to keep it then we will not keep it. We are not going to sell the Indian operations to hold 4.4 percent in Bharti,” Vodafone India MD and CEO Marten Pieters told PTI. Also Read - Airtel vs Vi vs Jio: Best prepaid plans with 3GB daily high speed data
He said the company will abide by the rules and regulations of the country and if the rules say that Vodafone can no longer own the stake, then they (Vodafone Group) will have to find a buyer. The new rules bar holding stake in competitors as both Vodafone India, a subsidiary of the UK-based group and Bharti Airtel offer telecom services in India. Also Read - 4G spectrum auction: Reliance Jio comes out as highest bidder, Airtel follows
Vodafone has to sell its entire stake in Airtel following new norms issued by government that bars a telecom operator from holding any kind of stake in competition under Unified Licenses (UL). Vodafone and Airtel currently operate on Unified Access Service License (UASL), or 2G licenses, under which telecom companies are permitted to hold up to 9.9 percent stake in other firms. Also Read - Airtel announces partnership with VOOT for premium content on Airtel Xstream
However, as per the new rules, telecom service providers operating under previous licenses will have to migrate to new licenses on expiry of their permits and sell stakes held by them in any rival within a year of getting UL.
Vodafone has applied for UL in Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata.