After India, Vodafone eyes Bangladesh
Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Vodafone Group Plc, the world's biggest mobile player by revenue that entered India early this year, on Monday indicated it was open to foray into other South Asian nations such as Pakistan and Bangladesh.

"These are some large-population markets, but with small mobile penetration and given a chance we would like to enter these markets," Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin told analysts when asked to comment on media reports that Vodafone was among the potential suitors for Egyptian telecom firm Orascom, which has a strong presence in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

"There are one or two countries in Asia where we can expand," Sarin said in a conference. "We have a few opportunities that we are interested to pursue. We continue to look at opportunities... if we find some that create value for our shareholders we would consider," he said when asked to comment on other possible takeovers worldwide.

However, Sarin, who led Vodafone's India entry through the acquisition of Hong Kong-based Hutchison Telecom's stake in Hutchison Essar, it was for Orascom chief Naguib Saviris to decide whether Orascom was up for sale or not.

A report in The Sunday Times said Orascom has appointed investment bankers to look at sale options and Deutsche Telecom and Vodafone might bid. However, Orascom later denied that it was on the block.

Meanwhile, a consortium led by Vodafone on Monday won a mobile license in Qatar, while beating other consortia that included Verizon Communications, Vodafone's partner in the US, AT&T Inc, UAE's Etilsat and Kuwait's MTC. The Vodafone-led group is expected to launch service during 2008.

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