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Tata, Birla row in Idea stake

Birlas seek intervention of Telecom Ministry

NEW DELHI: India's two top business houses appear headed for a showdown over their joint holding in Idea Cellular, with the A V Birla Group urging the Government to direct Tatas to expeditiously reduce their stake in the company, and the latter wanting to take its own time to get `fair value' for its investment.

Responding to a letter sent by Birlas to the Communication Ministry calling for "swiftest'' action in accordance with licence conditions, the Tata group said that no regulatory compulsion should be imposed on it, as it "needed sufficient time to reduce its holding at a fair value.''

Amid the confrontation between the two, the A V Birla Group chief, Kumaramangalam Birla, met the Telecom Minister, Dayanidhi Maran, and his Secretary J S Sarma last week.

When contacted, Sanjeev Aga, a Director in Aditya Birla Nuvo Limited, termed as "courtesy call'' the meeting between Mr. A. V. Birla and Mr. Maran, while declining to comment on the issues simmering between the Tatas and Birla group, which holds over 50 per cent stake in Idea.

In a letter to Mr. Sarma, the ABNL official said: "We are compelled to seek your intervention to ensure the adherence to the conditions of licence.'' — PTI

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