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BARCELONA (SPAIN):

Riding high on the Hutch-Essar win, Vodafone CEO Arun Sarin will visit India on Wednesday to pursue completion of the deal, ahead of which he would meet Telecom Minister Dayanidhi Maran in Barcelona on Tuesday.

Mr. Maran is scheduled to attend the 3GSM World Congress in Spain, where Mr. Sarin is expected to meet the Minister and discuss Vodafone's plans for its India operations. Ahead of his India visit, Mr. Sarin told analysts during a webcast that the company would offer to buyout Essar, which holds 33 per cent stake, from the venture. "Essar's option is time limited. It will take us couple of weeks to make an offer to Essar on equivalent terms as HTIL and they have to decide whether to sell or stay (as) partners,'' Mr. Sarin said.

Mittal to defend legacy

Bharti Airtel on Monday vowed to defend its legacy as the market leader in the face of world's largest player Vodafone acquiring Hutch-Essar and said it would match any `aggressive' approach from the U.K. giant.

"If Vodafone ups aggression and goes for further acquistions (in India), we will have to up our ante... we would like to defend our legacy... we are market leaders,'' Bharti group chief Sunil Mital told PTI in Barcelona.

After emerging as top bidder for majority stake in India's fourth largest mobile player Hutch-Essar, Vodafone committed to exit from Bharti Airtel by selling its 5.6 per cent direct stake to the promoters for $1.6 billion.

Bharti, SBI tie-up

Bharti Airtel on Tuesday entered into a partnership with State Bank of India in a pilot project for `Mobile Money Transfer' (MMT), a move that would enable over 25 million Indians living abroad to remit money back home through their mobiles.

"About $25 billion move from across the globe to India other than domestic transfer and this remittance accounts for only 10 per cent of the world market,'' Mr. Mittal said in Barcelona.

SBI Chairman O. P. Bhatt, who was also in Barcelona as an invitee to the 3GSM summit, said: "SBI has 14,000 branches in India and am excited by the potential of the new initiative.''

PTI

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